Leung may face vote of no confidence over structures
New threat to chief executive as fury over illegal structures continues, despite his protests he 'hid nothing' and that problem 'no longer exists'
Joshua But and Olga Wong
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying insisted yesterday he concealed nothing over the illegal structures at his home, which he believes "do not exist any more" after he dealt with the problem.
But his latest defence last night failed to convince lawmakers and a motion of no confidence could be tabled as early as next week.
Last Friday, Leung issued a 14-page statement in which he revealed for the first time that he had sealed a 200 sq ft room - one of 10 illegal structures at his houses on The Peak - four months before the chief executive election in March.
Questions were raised over Leung's integrity as he apparently knew of the illegal extension in October last year and sealed it the following month. He had previously claimed he had no illegal structure. He also denied an Apple Daily report in June that he had the illegal extension.
Speaking to the media twice last night, Leung insisted he had concealed nothing.
"My understanding at the time was that once I had dealt with the illegal structures, they existed no more," he said, referring to his project to seal the room. "Like many senior officials or prominent figures, their illegal structures are not made public after they have dealt with them."
Architectural professor Patrick Lau Sau-shing, a former lawmaker, said Leung had not properly dealt with the problem. "He should be filling or demolishing the unauthorised extension with consent from the Buildings Department," he said.
Paul Tse Wai-chun, an independent lawmaker seen as close to the central government's liaison office, said he would press ahead with plans to propose a motion of no confidence on December 19.
"A murderer cannot hide the body and tell others he did not commit a crime," he said.
Tse said it was an integrity issue as Leung, who had illegal structures in his own house, attacked rival candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen's luxurious 2,250 sq ft basement during the chief election campaign.
"These accusations are going to accompany him in the coming four or five years. I think he should seriously consider quitting the job," he said.
The Democratic Party said it might file a similar motion a week earlier if Leung could not clear the doubts in the Legislative Council.
Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit said the party would not rule out going further and seeking to impeach the chief executive. "If more evidence emerges to question his credibility, and public sentiments reach a [sufficient] height, it may be time to consider it," he said.
But Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, disagreed that Leung had deliberately concealed any facts.
"He has apologised for his negligence," he said.
The chance of passing the motion is slim as it requires majority support among both functional constituency and directly elected lawmakers. An impeachment would take even more steps, including a two-thirds majority among lawmakers.
The Buildings Department yesterday sent surveyors to inspect the unauthorised works at Leung's home in Peel Rise. They include a visitors' washroom, a shower room and a sauna room converted from a storeroom and an extended area of 200 sq ft left by the previous owner at No 4 together with a retractable canopy and a movable cabinet at No 5.