CY Leung faces lawmakers over illegal structures
Lai Ying-kit and Joanna Chiu
Between 5pm and 6:30pm, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying visted the Legislative Council chambers in Central. The CE gave a short speech before the start of a special question-and-answer session with lawmakers on the controversy over the illegal structures found at his home on The Peak. Below is a live blog of the event followed by the views of a few Hongkongers on the issue:
6.30pm Chan Ka-kwok asks if the situation has damaged Leung’s integrity.
Leung repeats there was negligence on his part, but says he has actively and openly addressed questions relating to the unauthorised works. He says his handling of the matter could have been better.
6.20pm Chiang Lai-wan asks if Leung will sell the two houses on The Peak so he can concentrate fully on policy making.
Leung says he will continue co-operating with the Buildings Department.
6.15pm Tam Yiu-chung asks if there is a 2,000-square foot unauthorised room in Leung’s other house in Stanley.
Leung says an inspection by the Buildings Department one year ago found no illegal structures there.
He also says he did not instruct property managers to bar Buildings Department officers from entering the Stanley property for an inspection.
6.10pm Leung Yiu-chung asks if he feels ashamed for winning the chief election by taking advantage of Henry Tang’s illegal structure scandal.
Leung Chun-ying says he has always been honest on the subject of the illegal structures in his Peak home.
6.00pm Joseph Lee Kok-long asks why Leung as a professional surveyor failed to acknowledge the illegal structures.
Leung says he is a real estate surveyor, but not a building surveyor who is an expert on illegal structures.
5.55pm Lam Tai-fai asks if Leung ever reassessed the central government confidence in his ability to govern Hong Kong following the controversy.
Leung says he admits the need to apologise to the public, and he has once again apologised in Legco.
5.50pm Lee Chuek-yan accuses Leung of using dishonest means to win the chief executive election in March.
5.45pm Session disrupted by Albert Chan Wai-yip and Wong Yuk-man, who shout slogans to protest against Leung.
The League of Social Democrats lawmakers are expelled from the chamber by Legco president Tsang Yok-sing.
5.40pm Wong Yuk-man says the controversy is not about illegal structures but about Leung’s integrity because Leung accused rival Henry Tang Ying-yen of having illegal structures in his home.
Wong says Leung is a liar and asks whether he has the “face” to serve as chief executive.
5.35pm Lam Kin-fung asks if Leung interfered in the Buildings Department investigation.
Leung says he did not.
5.25pm Lam Tai-fai asks that if there was no illegal structure, why Leung needed to seal it up with a brick wall. He also asks if Leung ever reassessed the central government confidence in his ability to govern Hong Kong.
Leung says that when he found illegal structures in his home, he immediately dealt with them. He says that if he had not deal with them, then it would have been his fault.
He said the case was that he found them and he dealt with them on his own. In hindsight, he should have sought approval from the Buildings Department. He said that would have been a better way to handle it.
5.10pm Albert Ho Chun-yan questions what Leung knew about the illegal structures before he purchased the houses. Ho also accuses Leung of being dishonest and says his integrity is bankrupt.
Leung says he did not know about the illegal structures before he purchased the houses. He stressed he immediately contacted the authorities once he knew of their existence.
Kwok Ka-ki accuses Leung of using lies to cover up other lies, and asks if Leung thinks he needs to resign.
Leung does not say if he will resign.
5.05pm Elizabeth Quat asks Leung to explain why there was an illegal extension in the basement. She questions why, as a surveyor, Leung did not know about the unauthorised works before purchasing the houses.
Leung replies that he could only get a friend to check minor problems such as a water leak because of a lack of time. He said that in hindsight, this was negligence.
5pm Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying enter the Legislative Council and gives a short speech before the start of a special question-and-answer session with lawmakers on the controversy over the illegal structures found at his home on The Peak.
Leung, in his opening remarks, says – as he has done so previously – that he was negligent in handling the issue of the numerous illlegal structures on his properties and apologises again to the public.
He also says that in hindsight, he should have explained to the Buildings Department the reason why he did not - or could not - reply to four of the department’s requests for information on a wall that sealed an illegal extension in the basement of one of his houses.
He says an ongoing judicial review barred him from commenting the matter.
Leung then moves on and begins taking questions from lawmakers.
Public views on the issue of the Chief Executive and his illlegal structures...
Andrew Mak Wai-chi, 50, business consultant
“I don’t believe he didn’t know about the illegal structures when he bought his home. He was a real estate surveyor. There’s no way he wouldn’t have noticed. Even if he actually hadn’t, there’s no way his friend, the expert whom he asked to inspect his house, wouldn’t have seen them. It’s also not an excuse to say that it was the previous owner who built the structures. The problem is that he had them and didn’t tell the public about them. But whether or not he lied doesn’t matter for the group of people who are against him, who believe he is controlled by the Beijing government, and want to overthrow him.”
Simon, Li, 26, finance worker
“Even if he didn’t build the structures himself, if he kept the truth from the public while he was running for office, it was his responsibility and he is in the wrong. You’d expect a buildings expert to know what an illegal structure looks like, but even if he actually didn’t know about them, he should’ve informed the public as soon as he learned about them.”
Mr. Yip, 29, banker
“I think he’s lying. It doesn’t make sense. He says one thing and then says something else in contradiction. I don’t think he should step down, though. Who would replace him? It would create more confusion and chaos.”
Mrs. Mak, 45, saleswoman
“I don’t care about this. It’s not a big deal. The media is hyping it up, but it’s actually not very interesting and I have no opinion on the matter.”
Theresa Dong, 36, finance worker
“I don’t think all the accusations [from the lawmakers] were fair. It’s possible he didn’t know about the structures, or maybe he was waiting to confirm information before releasing a report to the public. I think the radicals would take any excuse to overthrow him.”