Leung Chun-ying

Pressure builds on CY Leung after apologies to Legco

Leung's attempt to calm row over structures backfires as admissions of negligence irk lawmakers ahead of no confidence vote

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 December, 2012, 7:31am

Embattled Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying faces an even tougher political situation after his appearance in the Legislative Council yesterday in an effort to cool the row over his illegal structures only further agitated lawmakers.

Critics said that while Leung was likely to survive a Legco vote of no confidence tomorrow, he had deepened public doubts about his integrity despite five apologies and at least 10 admissions of negligence.

Passage of the motion will need support from both functional constituency and directly elected members. A resolution to invoke the power and privileges ordinance will be tabled next Wednesday and an impeachment effort could be launched as early as next week.

Leung appeared in the council chamber for a question-and-answer session six months after some of the illegal structures at his houses on The Peak were disclosed by media and just over two weeks after issuing a 14-page statement detailing these and others, including an unauthorised addition at 4 Peel Rise.

He said his delay was caused by the judicial review launched against his election and urged lawmakers to allow him to focus on his policies.

"I understand that the public has high expectation of every move of the chief executive. First, I must admit that I was negligent in handling illegal structures. I also didn't explain it clearly. For that, I apologise seriously and I promise I will be extra prudent in the future," he said.

He particularly apologised to civil servants and principal officials for "unfair criticism" they received - including those in the Buildings Department whose independence was questioned.

But he did not answer questions such as whether he has a reported 2,000 sq ft basement at his property in Stanley or whether he hid an unauthorised 320 sq ft extension under 4 Peel Rise.

"Despite the sensitive timing and the possibility that it would lead to speculation that I have hidden the space deliberately, I didn't pretend I didn't know. All I said was true."

Leung made public the unauthorised storage space only in his statement last month, although he found it in October last year. He sealed it with a wall a month later, the same month he declared his candidacy.

"In retrospect, I should have informed the Buildings Department of it," he said repeatedly.

Liberal Party lawmaker James Tien Pei-chun, who backed Leung's defeated election rival Henry Tang Ying-yen, said the party would make clear today its stance on the motion.

"Leung did not knock out Tang with his platform. Instead, more or less, he lied," he said.

During the election campaign, Leung criticised Tang over an unauthorised basement at Tang's Kowloon Tong home.

Independent lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun, who supports the motion, said Leung's integrity was in question.

Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said Leung had demonstrated he was "a professional cheat". Acting chairwoman of the Democratic Party Emily Lau Wai-hing said Leung's appearance was a "farce".