• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 4:34pm
PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 July, 2013, 2:35am

C.Y. Leung must wield the axe to salvage government's credibility

Albert Cheng says the chief executive must swiftly remove tainted members of his team and stop violent protests if he is to survive


Ir. Albert Cheng is the founder of Digital Broadcasting Corporation Hong Kong Limited, a current affairs commentator and columnist. He was formerly a direct elected Hong Kong SAR Legislative Councillor. Mr Cheng was voted by Time Magazine in 1997 as one of "the 25 most influential people in new Hong Kong" and selected by Business Week in 1998 as one of "the 50 stars of Asia".  

Since Leung Chun-ying became the chief executive a year ago, his administration has been plagued by an endless string of scandals, leading to the plummeting of its credibility, which has now hit rock bottom.

If the scandal-ridden members of his team, such as Development Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po and executive councillor Franklin Lam Fan-keung, do not step down and the Caring Hong Kong Power doesn't cease from its unruly and violent ways, they could well be the last straw that breaks the camel's back, triggering the end of Leung's regime. In other words, either these "three evils" go, or Leung goes.

On the outside, he needs to rein in these rowdy, uncontrollable 'love Hong Kong' groups

We have seen the bankruptcy of Chan's credibility. First, he was involved in the speculative sale of subdivided flats - a suspected conflict of interest as development secretary. Then he was embroiled in accusations that he drove under the influence of alcohol.

Most recently, he was hard-selling and pushing for housing development in northeastern New Territories and was subsequently found to have owned agricultural land in the area.

After the scandal was exposed, Chan at first claimed to have forgotten the details of his investment. He said his wife and her family, through an overseas entity - Orient Express Holdings - were minority shareholders of the company that owns a plot of agricultural land in the northeast New Territories.

Chan's wife tried to placate public anger by saying she had sold and transferred her shares to her relatives. She then bore the brunt of the criticism and made a public apology.

At this point, we are not just talking about whether Chan failed to declare his private interest as a top government official. We should also ask whether his wife had benefited at all from privileged information.

Chan took office last August. His wife only pulled out from the land-holding company in October.

It's not Chan's credibility that is at stake now because he has none; it's the survival of the entire administration. If he doesn't resign, the government will certainly pay a hefty political price.

During the Tung Chee-hwa era, financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung had to step down after a car-tax scandal. Under Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's administration, environment secretary Edward Yau Tang-wah had to shelve a scheme to promote energy-saving light bulbs after it was revealed that a relative of Donald Tsang's was the biggest importer of a market-leading brand of such light bulbs.

Leung prides himself on the fact that his governing team tries harder than the previous administration. Now it's time to walk the walk.

Our current administration is certainly not short of scandals. Chan's predecessor, Mak Chai-kwong, was found to have cheated the government in housing allowances shortly after he was appointed. Mak was recently convicted of housing fraud. At that time, Mak immediately resigned after the scandal broke to minimise damage to the government.

In Chan's case, if the chief executive refuses to take action and remove him from office, it would appear he is trying to cover up and protect him.

In Lam's case, he was caught selling two flats just before the government introduced tough measures to curb housing prices, giving the impression that he tried to dodge hefty taxes. As an Exco member, he obviously had insight into all government policies. The scandal led to him being put on indefinite leave and suspended from all Exco duties. His case has dragged on for far too long - it is time for Leung to act.

The government must take decisive action to rebuild its credibility. First, Chan must resign. If he refuses, the government must appoint other officials to take charge of the northeast New Territories housing development.

Second, Leung must cancel Lam's indefinite leave and remove all existing Exco members to form a new inner cabinet to rebuild trust and credibility.

Finally, if Leung really respects public opinion, he would have noticed an increasingly violent force that is countering the Occupy Central movement and the call for political reform. He needs to put a stop to these violent protests.

These so-called "love Hong Kong" groups are nothing but unruly hooligans who are destroying Hong Kong's core values and freedom, as well as law and order. If Leung could clean them up, it would certainly boost his popularity.

Leung is no doubt fighting for his political life. In order to survive, he must remove Chan and Lam and at the same time rebuild his governance team and the inner cabinet. On the outside, he needs to rein in these rowdy and uncontrollable "love Hong Kong" groups.

He doesn't have the luxury of time; he must act before the situation reaches the point of no return.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator. taipan@albertcheng.hk


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This article is now closed to comments

Well written! Why is it that the government headed by CY Leung is the most scandal ridden one since the handover? Is it time to reconsider the unspoken, age old policy of nominating top civil servants or leaders in business to top government positions? After all, such people, being typically well established and well connected, run a much higher risk of becoming embroiled in conflicts of interest.
Government is in need of new, untainted blood. Perhaps what needs to be done now is to open the positions to capable nobodies who are not business leaders or top civil servants.
dont forget Barry Cheung....let's inlcude him in the list of CY's inner circle who have been accused of corruption
Another Social Critics...
薄熙來案顯中央反腐決心...That ' CY' will got the SAME FATE...
No matter 'CY', Cheung C.Y. or Chan M.B. will Like It or Not...!!!???
Compulsory Immediate Dismissal will all be Their Fate, Coming Soon!!!
Au Man Lun(Ex-Macau Official) Incident of CORRUPTION...IS...
Re-Hapening in Hong Kong...
薄熙來案顯中央反腐決心...A Great Achievement in Hong Kong...
Central China Government did Full Support in Legitimate HK's governmental Running...
Like Mr. Tung Kin Wah, as well as, Mr. Donad Tsang...
That 'CY', Cheung C.Y. or Chan M.B....Group of DisGrace & ShameLess...
Coming Prosecuted for Corruption...
薄熙來案顯中央反腐決心...Applied in Hong Kong...Too!!!!
While I agree in principle, where exactly will we find 'capable nobodies' in a given field if we exclude those in top civil service and business positions? Say Paul Chan steps down - with what kind of person would you like to see him replaced by if not someone who has experience in either the business or government site of development?
hard times !
agree with Taipan that these three evils: Lam Fan-keung, Chan Mo-po and 'Care for Hong Kong Power' represented by Ms Chan Ching-sum must be wiped out if the Leung administration is to survive.If not, the credubility of the SAR administration will further plummet and it will soon become a lame-duck government which can achieve nothing in the remaining four years ! just wait and see if C.Y.will wield his axe to distance his government from these three evils !
hard times !
as lawmaker Chan Chi-chuen in the
panel meeting of the Legco
suggested to Paul Chan
he has to 'curb loss by departure'
so as to do Hongikongers a favour
no more hesitation or
lingering in the prestigious high-paid
post---development minister
which is only a hot potato
no matter it is demolition of
unauthorized structures or
development of north-east N.T.
to building more buildings
for homeless residents
in town
go now, Paul Chan
you are no longer trusted
by we Hongkongers
who are fed up with
your lie after lie and explanation
day after day
which can never distance
you and your family from
the suspicion of
'conflict of interest' !
how could **** Ka-luen
pay a large sum of 2.7 millions
to his sis within 6 months
since his companies
are found to do
no concrete businesses
and his lodge is still
on mortgage---owing bank's loan ?
how could your spouse'
prove the deals were paid
in cash or really paid
instead of faked deals only ?
the sums might be handed to Ka-luen
who then gave back to his sis
**** Ka-luen was found to be
broke in 2002 !
the so-called sale of stakes in
companies related to Paul Chan's
post by his wife to her brother
might be just a trick
to fool the public only
Frieda is just too greedy
about bucks which she
will never release from
her palms
land or flats either in family's
hand or in-laws or friends
can be retrieved easily
one day
right ? Paul Chan ?
The sad reality that is becoming apparent is all of these former senior civil servants, to use the term loosely, have skeletons in the closet. The Post should do an in-depth investigation of all personal and family interests of the ministers and their lieutenants. How many BVI companies will you find where their wealth has been hidden from IRD? How many have Swiss bank accounts where bribes have been deposited?
The conventional wisdom that HK has a clean civil service and the rule of law has been revealed since the handover to be a complete lie. The only difference between HK govt and what we see north of the border is the HK crooks are smarter at covering their tracks.
The fundamental evil is the so-called "Principal Officials Accountability System" introduced by Tung Chi Wah. The Chief Executive has enormous, widespread powers of patronage in appointments and its abuses were perfected by Donald Tsang. In practice this has fostered the rise of a squalid parcel of position seeking cronies feathering their own or their lobby groups' nests.
It is totally unaccountable, stinks of abuse and has to go. Hong Kong's citizens want and deserve clean, able government.
Very well said, and right to the core of the issue............It is obvious that CY is trying his best to protect Paul Chan, despite knowing that it is obvious Chan is in a serious conflict-of-interest situation........Chan must think the general public is stupid, if he keeps coming up with all these BS reasons to cover up his personal potential monetary gains via his wife and in-laws...........it is well-known in the general community that Chan has been shoe-shining Leung for a long time and he was desperate to spend his final days of his career as one of the Ministers on Leung's administration...........Unfortunately, he was too naive to think that he was "immune" to the same scrutiny that all officials get for "conflict-of-interest" issues..............WAKE UP MR. CHAN and do us all a favour and end this fiasco by just resigning..............
These 3 candidates should all resign:-
(1) Paul Chan
(2) Eddie Ng
(3) John Tsang
Also, why is Barry Cheung not being investigated from the whole HKMex fiasco? He was clearly behind all of the illegal activities. The legitimacy of our legal system also seems to be at stake.




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