C.Y. inquiry's invisible man turns up in town
The architect at the centre of a conflict-of-interest row involving chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying reiterated last night that he did not know Leung - as he visited the city just days after the close of a Legislative Council inquiry he was 'too busy' to testify at.
The presence of Malaysian architect Dr Ken Yeang in Hong Kong surprised members of the panel investigating Leung's role in the 2001 West Kowloon arts hub design contest. Yeang admitted he had declined to take questions from the panel despite being asked to do so four times. 'I was busy. I told them I did not know Leung before, during and after the competition ... The election [for chief executive] is over now,' Yeang said.
He denied the panel's claim that he had been offered the opportunity to give evidence by teleconferencing.
Yeang was in town to convene an architecture seminar at the Asia Society in Admiralty and planned to leave Hong Kong immediately after the event finished last night.
The 10-year-old competition entry that sparked the recent controversy was led by Yeang's company and named Leung's surveying firm DTZ as a 'property adviser'.
With Leung one of the judges, the alleged conflict of interest resulted in the entry being disqualified. Leung has denied his firm was part of Yeang's team.
In February, Yeang denied having had any contact with DTZ, although he said other firms involved in the entry might have done. He distanced himself further by saying he 'did not sign any papers' regarding the contest and wanted to stay out of politics.
But documents disclosed for the inquiry showed he did sign a registration form. Yeang said yesterday he signed only to assert copyright.
Ip Kwok-him, chairman of the investigating panel, expressed his surprise at Yeang's visit but said the committee would not resume hearings. Nor could it force him to testify. 'Since our special powers do not cover people from overseas, it is difficult to say he is unco-operative,' Ip said.
Committee member Lee Wing-tat said he was 'disappointed' in Yeang's explanation: 'Our focus was not just whether he knew Leung, but also his knowledge of the correspondence between the firms in his team and Leung's firm.'
Fellow committee member Tanya Chan said Yeang had failed to understand that his evidence was very important to Hong Kong people.