Review puts pressure on candidates

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 February, 2012, 12:00am


The chief executive's decision to create an independent committee to review the code of conduct for top politicians will put more pressure on the two leading candidates vying to be his successor to state their positions on disclosure laws.

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's announcement of a review came as more details emerged of the property portfolios owned by Henry Tang Ying-yen and Leung Chun-ying.

Critics have long complained that the specific details of properties owned by members of the Executive Council members can be hidden behind a tangle of paperwork, with ownership of land and property transferred to companies which may be registered in other countries.

There are concerns that the declarations do not reflect the full extent of the property portfolios of some Exco members.

The last few weeks has seen the city's political landscape rocked by scandals involving conflicts of interest and disclosures by senior officials, bolstering calls by critics for a more transparent system. 'Using companies that hide property ownership should not be permitted,' said Benson Wong Wai-kwok, associate professor of political science at Baptist University, who wants a more detailed and stricter process.

In their most recent declaration of registrable interests submitted to the Executive Council, Tang and Leung listed several properties.

Tang, the former chief secretary, listed a residential property in Kowloon City district for self-use.

It is understood to be in York Road and owned by a company called Bluehouse Investments, which bought the property for HK$46.5 million in 1996.

This house is next door to his wife's property, home to the illegal basement that has rocked Tang's bid to be the city's next leader.

Tang also lists a commercial property in the Yau Tsim Mong district which is believed to be a large office space on the eighth floor of the Silvercord building on Canton Road in Tsim Sha Tsui. It is owned by Peninsular Properties, a company of which Tang is the major shareholder.

Tang listed two other residential properties in Central and Western district which are rented out, but details could not be confirmed and he refused to answer direct questions about them. In Yeung's most recent declaration, he listed two adjacent sites on The Peak as his home. This is understood to be in Peel Rise.

The former Executive Council convenor also owns a home in Southern district which is believed to be the first floor of a block in Tung Tau Wan Road, Stanley. This property is leased out and owned through Yeung's company, Lotvest.

He also owns a piece of residential land in Weihai , Shandong province and two properties in Singapore. His wife, Leung Tong Ching-yee owns a property in the borough of Kensington, London.

Neither Tang nor Yeung answered questions on how the property disclosure laws could be reformed for greater transparency or to confirm if the Exco register reflected their full property portfolio.

Property disclosure laws are different for Legislative Council members, including the third nominee for chief executive, Albert Ho Chun-yan, as they do not have to disclose the property which is their main home.

The Legco requirements were first introduced in 1991 and modelled on the system used by the House of Commons in the UK.

Over the years, several changes have been made by Legco's committee on members' interests. Last month, a review of the system discussed the need for 'fuller details' in the land and property category.

Property portfolios

Leung Chun-ying

Two adjacent flats on The Peak - own use

A home in Southern district - leased out

A piece of residential land in Weihai, Shandong province - vacant

Two homes in Singapore - leased out

Wife Leung Tong Ching-yee owns a residential property in Kensington, London - own use

Henry Tang Ying-yen

A home in Kowloon City - own use

A commercial property in Tau Tsim Mong district - leased out

Two homes in Central and Western district - leased out

Albert Ho

No property

Source: register of member's interests for Executive Council and Legislative Council