The Buildings Department last night belatedly confirmed that Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying did have unauthorised structures in a space outside his flat in Stanley 12 years ago.
The revelation adds fuel to demands by lawmakers for an inquiry into unauthorised works at Leung's homes. And it answers a question he and the department had avoided for months.
In a press release, the department said "illegal structures including roof rail, column, wall, staircases and slabs" were found in a space between the flat and an artificial slope. "We don't know the usage and the size of that space as the demolition of those structures had already begun when the department first inspected the space," it said.
The statement elaborated on a press release issued in 2001, when Leung was an executive councillor and was questioned about his properties. That release said it found an illegal canopy in the garden and some "alteration works to the unit". A department spokeswoman could not explain the delay yesterday.
The department did not say if the structures were built by Leung or the previous owner. It only said the problems were rectified in January 2001. Leung bought the Tung Tau Wan Road property in 1979 and lived there until the early 1990s. He now rents it out.
Next Magazine reported last month that it had been asking the department since July if Leung had an illegal extension of 2,000 sq ft at the flat. The department inspected the flat again on Tuesday but failed to confirm if the illegal extension still existed.
Leung was questioned by lawmakers on Monday but was evasive when answering a question by Tam Yiu-chung, leader of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Rather than say whether or not he had an unauthorised extension, he said he would co-operate with the department's investigation.
Lawmakers from across the political spectrum criticised Leung for an incomplete disclosure. Pan-democrats plan to move a resolution to invoke Legco's Powers and Privileges Ordinance to seek a full disclosure of unauthorised works at Leung's properties. On Wednesday he survived a Legco motion of no confidence.
The Civic Party's Alan Leong Kah-kit criticised the Buildings Department statement for "playing around with words".
"Its director is a professional surveyor, but what he came up with was just a nonsensical description, citing only findings like roof rails and columns," he said.
Labour Party lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan said the statement showed Leung lied when he said he "had no experience" in handling illegal structures at his properties on The Peak.