Leung Chun Ying

Tighter rules urged over declaration of interest for Exco members in Hong Kong

Academic says Exco members should be required to provide details of stakes in any subsidiaries

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 August, 2012, 3:47am

The government is being urged to make the system under which executive councillors declare their interests more open to scrutiny as pressure mounts on Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to disclose the name of a company that has embroiled him in a disclosure row.

Professor Dixon Sing Ming, a political analyst at the University of Science and Technology, said the rules on declaration for Executive Council members should be tightened and that all subsidiaries held under declared companies should be made public.

"Some subsidiaries are registered offshore and can't be traced by the public. The chief executive should provide as many details as possible," Sing said. "To do his best, he should sell all his stakes relating to the firm to clear public worries."

Sing was referring to the involvement of Leung, formerly Exco convenor, with British-based property consultancy DTZ, of which he was Asia-Pacific chairman until last year.

Leung admitted in two separate statements in the past few days that he holds some shares of a foreign branch of DTZ Holdings but declined to say what it is called, what it does or where it operates, except to say that it is not involved in business in Hong Kong, the mainland or Taiwan.

Leung said in his declaration of interests that he holds shares in three companies and their subsidiaries. He did not identify the latter. His refusal to give direct answers raised concern that, through his holding in the foreign branch, he may still have a say in DTZ Debenham Tie Leung - a Hong Kong-managed DTZ subsidiary.

In a response on Monday to media reports about his holdings, he said the foreign branch only managed business in "that country" and was not a subsidiary or holding company of DTZ Debenham Tie Leung. He also pledged to transfer his stake in Wintrack Worldwide, which holds shares in the foreign branch, to a trust along with his other DTZ holdings.

His spokeswoman was quoted during the chief executive election campaign as saying Leung's stakes would be transferred to a blind trust headed by an independent trustee.

"But how can the public believe his words without evidence?" Sing asked yesterday, adding that the public had sought more information as they did not trust Leung.

The Chief Executive's Office did not respond to questions from the South China Morning Post yesterday.