POLITICS
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Leung Chun-ying

Leung Chun-ying refuses to bite over Stanley flat extensions

CY faces fresh questions over latest controversy but others are urging Hongkongers to move on

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 December, 2012, 8:45am

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying yesterday refused to be drawn into talking at length about an unauthorised extension to a flat he owns in Stanley as he attended the annual Brands and Products Expo.

Leung tried to end the saga over illegal structures at his home on The Peak by apologising for his handling of the matter in the Legislative Council last week. Controversy began after Leung was elected in March, when the existence of unauthorised additions to the property, including a garden trellis, was revealed.

During election campaigning Leung had criticised his rival for the top job, Henry Tang Ying-yen, over the recent construction of a luxurious 2,300 sq ft basement at the Tang family home in Kowloon Tong.

On Friday, the Buildings Department confirmed that it had found illegal structures in 2001 at a flat in Stanley that Leung bought in 1979 and in which he and his family lived until 2000. The unauthorised works were being demolished at the time officials confirmed their existence, the department said.

This prompted new questions - about the size of the extension, what it was used for, and when and at whose instruction it was built. Some reports said the extension was 2,000 sq ft in area.

Speaking after the opening of the expo in Victoria Park, Causeway Bay, Leung said the flat had been restored to comply fully with the building plan.

"The department did not spot any problems" when officials checked the property, now let to tenants, last week, he added.

He would not go into details about the unauthorised works.

In its statement, the department said "illegal structures including a roof rail, column, wall, staircases and slabs" were found in a space between the flat in Tung Tau Wan Road and an artificial slope in 2001.

Executive Councillor Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun said the matter had been settled more than 10 years ago, and called on Hongkongers to move on.

"I hope society can let bygones be bygones and spare the government time and space to work on more pressing issues," she said.

Leung will make his first duty visit to Beijing on Thursday. On the eve of his departure, the Labour Party will propose a resolution to invoke the Legislative Council's Powers and Privileges Ordinance to launch an inquiry over illegal structures at Leung's properties.

Labour Party chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said the controversy over the Stanley property had raised fresh questions about Leung's integrity. An inquiry could also look into whether government officials had shielded Leung, he said.

In a gesture to put the focus back on to livelihood issues, Leung and his wife, Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee, yesterday spent HK$1,200 at the expo on a handbag and handicrafts.