• Sun
  • Dec 28, 2014
  • Updated: 5:34am
Leung Chun-ying
NewsHong Kong

Memory lapse to blame for confusion over illegal works, says C.Y. Leung

C Y Leung blames lapse of memory for his poor handling of unauthorised structures at his Peak home, and admits more add-ons may be illegal

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 November, 2012, 3:30am

A "lapse of memory" was responsible for confusion over illegal structures at his home on The Peak, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said yesterday.

But that was not enough for lawmakers, who demanded he give them a fuller explanation.

He said in a written statement that he had no intention of hiding the facts. However, he said that, in addition to the structures already disclosed, there were others he may also have to demolish at his two houses in Peel Rise.

"I admit there is negligence and there was carelessness when [I] handled the incident ... but hard facts have shown that I had no intention to hide [anything]," Leung wrote.

He had waited until all legal action against him over the illegal structures ended before making the statement.

Pan-democrat legislators said the written statement was not enough, while others said Leung had proved he had no intention to lie.

The Legislative Council's House Committee voted to invite Leung to appear before it to give a further explanation.

Political analyst James Sung Lap-kung said Leung's popularity could now rebound.

"His popularity ratings can still rise if his government can set out policies that benefit the public," Sung said. "But his administration remains at risk of a governance crisis if his future policy initiatives faces any setback."

The existence of illegal structures at Leung's houses came to light earlier this year after he had strongly criticised Henry Tang Ying-yen, his rival in the chief executive election, over a luxurious 2,250 sq ft basement at his Kowloon Tong home.

Controversy over Leung's illegal structures led to calls for him to step down even before he took office in July.

The Buildings Department said in June it had found six illegal structures at Leung's houses - a 240 sq ft basement, the main gate, a 40 sq ft single-storey structure, a cover over a parking space, a trellis and a glass enclosure in the garden.

Yesterday Leung wrote that he might also need to demolish a sauna room, a guest toilet, a retractable roof over the main bedroom's balcony, an expanded laundry room and a locker.

In June he admitted building the glass canopy and trellis, but said the latter replaced a rotten one. Yesterday he wrote: "No matter whether the previous landlord left a trellis, after the home purchase I installed a trellis at House 4 and House 5. A few years later they were turned into a glass canopy and a [new] trellis which were removed in June."

The statement came nearly five months after the structures were spotted. Prior to June Leung had said no unauthorised work had been done at his houses, citing the opinions of professionals.

Leung said he was negotiating with the Buildings Department over the previously undisclosed items and a maid's room.

Civic Party lawmaker Alan Leong Kah-kit said it was not satisfactory for Leung "to speak on his own without letting others cross-examine him'.

Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said the affair had shown that "the whole election campaign was based on lies".

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong chairman Tam Yiu-chung said he believed Leung had not intentionally hidden any facts.

Engineering-sector representative Lo Wai-kwok said Leung showed in his statement that he had applied for some of the add-ons after moving in, and was thus unaware other works were illegal.


Twists and turns in Leung Chun-ying's accounts of illegal structures

June 21 Ming Pao Daily says unauthorised glass canopy had been found in one of Leung Chun-ying's two houses on Peel Rise. Canopy has been removed by the time report came out. Leung says it was built to replace wooden trellis that was already in place when he moved in.

June 22 The daily tells of illegal trellis in Leung's house next door. Buildings Department finds six illegal structures in both houses, including 8.5 square metre room, metal gate leading to both houses and sheltered parking space of 24 sq metres. Leung apologises, removes trellis and stresses remaining structures had existed before he moved in and he did not know they were illegal. Pan-democrats tell ICAC he has made false claim in election campaign.

June 27 The daily says aerial photos show houses did not have any trellis before he moved in.

June 29 Past owner of houses admits building gate and parking shelter, but not wooden trellis.

July 4 Leung Kwok-hung and Albert Ho Chun-yan file judicial review against his "false claim".

July 5 Executive councillor Barry Cheung Chun-yuen tells Post Leung "may have remembered incorrectly" details about the trellises. Ho files election petition to challenge ballot result.

July 13 Executive councillor Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun tells Post Leung had not double-checked records before answering reporters. Law learns from his wife that wooden trellis was built by their family.

July 16 Leung refuses to comment on trellises in his first Legco meeting due to legal proceedings.

July 30 Court of First instance rejects judicial review.

September 12 High Court says judicial review can proceed.

October 5 High Court dismisses Ho's election petition.

November 13 Court of Final Appeal rejects Ho's appeal.

November 19 Ho withdraws legal challenge formally.

November 23 Leung claims memory was wrong.

Olga Wong


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This article is now closed to comments

Just goes to show how great the selection system is for the CE. If we can't choose next time then why not have some Mark 6 type system where BJ approved candidates choose 6 numbers and the one with the closest numbers wins. I'm sure it will be more exciting and just as effective as the current system. Members of the public can also pick numbers and the winners or 2nd or 3rd place can be appointed as Special Advisors to the CE or even be given a brand new department to run.
The Lord of the Manor has now spoken. How dare the governed question the wisdom and words of the governor. How preposterous that the Hand Picked Scion of the Heavens should have to respond to questions from the peasants. Frankly, regardless of how significant the structural changes were and how he used it to attack his rival when he was equally guilty, it is the dismissive manner in which he just tells us "I did it and there is nothing you can do about it." At least Henry Tang threw the wife under the bus in order to try to contain the blast. CY just tells us to get over it. Apparently Beijing chose the leader that they wanted for us.
What short and selective memories so many of you have. In the early stages of the CE election Henry Tang took a moderate view on illegal structures while CY took a hardline approach. Henry was criticized and CY was praised. The SCMP was one of the leading campaigners for showing no mercy to citizens who had 'illegal' structures. Do you all forget the media frenzy in Kowloon Tong over Henry's basement and that this was portrayed by the SCMP and other leading media as showing Henry couldn't be trusted and hence lacked credibitliy to be leader? Short and selective memories! You had the scent of blood for Henry and NT residents in your noses before. Now we have your scent. Should we go for the jugular like you wanted to? CY apologists are simply sticking to the actual rule of law in Hong Kong. One rule for your enemies or those you don't like and one for others. All pigs are equal, but some are more equal than others.
P.S. I generally support CY and the Gov't, but there needs to be some equal application of the so called 'moral' law in Hong Kong this time.
hard times !
To a leader, integrity is of paramount importance. So lies told by C.Y.Leung during his election campaign while pointing accusing fingers at his rival,Henry Tang who lost the election due to the disclosure of his basement palace can never be excused or omitted. He still refuses to admit that he has told lies to cover his over 10 illegal structures which has long been a thorny issue in town. If he is politically smart and sensitive enough, he should have all those structures demolished well before the election. Now his integrity is in doubt.
What's the big deal with the trellis, and other unauthorized structures. This is not like a luxurious basement someone tries to build and hide from the Buildings Department. Don't these lawmakers have nothing better to do than to keep calling for CY to appear before the Legislature to explain in person. Let's use the Legislative Council's time to deal with more important issues, such as improving ordinary peoples' lives, housing, poverty, etc.
But the article does mention a 240 sq ft basement. Apart from that fact, though, it is important that the leadership is subject to the same laws as everyone else. Now whether all those laws are reasonable is another matter. Personally I do think HK is a bit heavy on the bureaucracy for adding simple structures or making minor modifications to a property.
Agree that everyone is subjected to the same laws. However, as you mentioned, HK is a bit heavy on the bureaucracy for minor modifications to a property, which means this law is so unreasonable and hard to enforce as evidenced by the outrageous number of "illegal structures" both in urban and rural areas, and should be changed long time ago. Personally, I don't give a s__t how many and what kind of illegal structures CY has in his house, and I don't see appearing in person before the Legislative Council will contribute to the well beings of most HK citizens. It is not really in the public interest to hear the CE to address this issue all the time. It's past, and let's move forward.
Admitting to a 'memory lapse' is at least more honorable than blaming it on one's wife, which has become a sort of 'reflex' for HK's public figures caught with any transgression. Perhaps Mr Leung should consider taking 20 mg of Memantine daily to improve his memory?
He tried hidden the fact during the CE election .
Tbh I didn't read the article. I am just amazed how the media feels this is still worthy of the front page. Don't we have bigger problems to deal with?!?!?
Yes, we do have bigger problems, the CE and his rotten team and your disregard of integrity.
I don't see what's the big deal with adding a glass cover over the parking space and enclosure of the porch, etc. the so called "illegal structures" worthy of front page coverage. Yes, CY and Hong Kong have bigger problems, like poverty, widening wealth gap, etc. to deal with. Let him and his team do the work for God's sake.
What would have happened had CY shed some tears, admitting he had made a mistake?
It wouldn't be such an issue had he not exploited his rival (Henry Tang)'s illegal structures in the election. Now CY looks worse than Tang.


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