Leung Chun-ying

Tang's illegal basement built up C.Y.'s war chest

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 April, 2012, 12:00am


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Campaign donations to Leung Chun-ying were almost three times the amount received by his major chief executive election rival, Henry Tang Ying-yen, after an illegal basement underneath Tang's Kowloon Tong family home was revealed.

The revelation came in expenses details submitted by the two election candidates yesterday.

They also showed Leung, now the chief executive-elect, and Tang were each backed by different big businesses during their campaigns.

Leung's top donor was not a tycoon, however, but a group of Beijing loyalists called the Association of Experts for Modernisation.

They donated more than HK$1 million to Leung, their former chairman in the 1980s. Maria Tam Wai-chu, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People's Congress, is an honorary chairwoman of the association.

Political scientist Li Pang-kwong, of Lingnan University, said the figures showed the furore over the illegal basement in February had dealt a considerable blow to Tang's fund-raising campaign while boosting Leung's progress.

'However, it would be difficult to judge how significantly the increase helped Leung to win, considering that Premier Wen Jiabao's comments in mid-March - that he believed the chief executive election would produce a leader with majority support of the city - also played an important role,' he said.

Before the existence of the illegal basement was confirmed in mid-February, Tang had accumulated HK$10 million from donors and Leung HK$11 million.

Leung received nine cheques of HK$500,000 or HK$1 million each starting from mid-December, while Tang got dozens of HK$100,000 and HK$200,000 cheques.

The amounts between the two candidates varied because they were believed to have imposed different caps on donations.

In the aftermath of the scandal, donations to Tang totalled HK$1.3 million, just over a third of the HK$3.7 million Leung received.

Among the big donors supporting Tang after mid-February were Henderson Land Development vice-chairman Peter Lee Ka-kit, Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, his daughter Pansy Ho Chiu-king, and Thomas Lau Luen-hung, managing director of Lifestyle International Holdings. Each gave HK$100,000.

In comparison, Leung received HK$2.4 million more than Tang. That included HK$500,000 each from Chow Tai Fook Nominee, which is owned by Cheng Yu-tong, father of New World Development chairman and Leung supporter Henry Cheng Kar-shun, and Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, scion of the Sun Hung Kai Properties empire. Kwok was the last donor, giving only on Monday, almost a month after the vote.

Another supporter was industrialist Chiang Chen, known as the 'King of Plastic Machines', who donated HK$500,000 to Leung. Carl Tong & Associates Management Consultancy gave HK$1 million. Tang also had the support of other notable tycoons, but apparently he set the donation cap at HK$200,000, believed to be one-fifth of Leung's cap.

Tang donated HK$900,000 and Leung HK$3.6 million, the amounts left over from their campaign expenses, to charities.