CY Leung forced to apologise again for illegal structures
Chief executive forced to apologise again for illegal structures as he is heckled by protesters at town hall meeting ahead of policy address
Joshua But, Olga Wong and Ng Kang-chung
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying apologised again last night over his handling of unauthorised structures at his houses.
He was speaking at a town hall meeting that was intended to collect the public's views on the policy address and the budget.
"It is negligence on my part. I offer my apology," Leung said at the meet-the-residents session in Kowloon Bay.
"My basic attitude is that when I know there are illegal structures, I will handle them immediately, even though there might be a grey area."
A government source, meanwhile, sought to deflect criticism over the revelation that one of the extensions was much bigger than Leung had described by saying he had not measured it.
"Mr Leung did not measure the extended area with measurement tools," the source said of the 320 sq ft room, which Leung had said was 200 sq ft.
"It was just a rough estimation done before he demolished the facilities and sealed up the area." For most of the 80-minute meeting, attended by 700 people, Leung was grilled about the delay in issuing new free-to-air television licences, the lack of a universal retirement protection scheme and the scandal over the additions to No 4 and No 5 Peel Rise.
One questioner said: "Illegal structures are a minor issue. Even my mother was caught with illegal structures at her home. She fixed it quickly. But you cannot handle it properly. How can you lead Hong Kong people?"
Another asked: "Many Hong Kong people face a housing problem and the wait for public housing is very long. Can we also illegally build a place to live in?"
City Telecom, one of the applicants for a licence, mobilised about 100 employees to attend the forum and 14 got the chance to raise questions.
They called for the opening-up of the television market and questioned why it was taking the government so long to issue new free-to-air licences.
One asked whether the government was "colluding with TVB and ATV" to protect their interests. Leung hit back: "Anyone who makes such allegations needs to substantiate their claims ... If there is evidence, I would much like to hear about it."
Leung promised his administration would look into a universal retirement system and said he was sincere about helping needy old people.
Yesterday's session was also marred by noisy protests.
Verbal abuse and personal attacks against Leung from activists could be clearly heard.
Leung said he had come across similar noisy protests, but "this cannot shake the determination of me and my team to meet the people".
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing, and Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing accompanied Leung but none spoke.
It was the first of three such meetings on the policy address and budget.
Earlier yesterday, the financial secretary told lawmakers he was satisfied measures in October had helped to cool the property market, with prices stabilising last month after rising 23 per cent in the first 10 months.