Panel may quiz Leung before poll on March 25
Chief executive candidate Leung Chun-ying may not be able to avoid facing a lawmakers' inquiry into conflict-of-interest allegations before the city's next leader is chosen on March 25.
At the first meeting yesterday of a Legislative Council select committee formed to investigate allegations - which concern Leung's role as a judge in a West Kowloon arts hub design contest in 2001 - members decided to begin hearings on Saturday.
The first witnesses to be called will be key government officials involved. Leung is due to be summoned on March 20 - five days before the vote to choose the city's next leader - and will testify under oath. Whether Leung gives evidence that day or at a later date will depend on the progress made in the previous session.
Leung is accused of failing to disclose his company DTZ's business relationship with one of the contest entrants. Leung says he was not made aware of the relationship.
Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, whose administration stands accused of covering up Leung's failure to declare DTZ's connections with Malaysian contestant Hamzah & Yeang, is not among those named on the initial list of witnesses.
Legco passed a motion earlier this month to invoke special powers to force a full-scale probe.
In a letter to Legco president Tsang Yok-sing on March 2, Leung called on the committee not to start the hearings until after the election because he thought an investigation before the vote might be unfair to him. He also asked Legco to 'consider reconstituting the select committee with members coming only from among those who have not nominated any candidate'; he said if it consisted of members who were 'likely to have a prejudice' against him, its credibility would be undermined.
Six of the 12 committee members nominated Leung's rivals, Henry Tang Ying-yen or Albert Ho Chun-yan. The only Leung supporter is Paul Chan Mo-po.
Lawmakers agreed to hold three hearings on March 17, 20 and 31.
A spokesman for Leung said yesterday that he respected the committee's decision and would try his best to co-operate, but he needed time to prepare for the hearings.
Separately, Buildings Department chief Au Choi-kai said the investigation of illegal structures found at Tang's family home in Kowloon Tong was expected to be completed by the end of May.