Henry Tang Ying-yen, who was defeated last year’s chief executive poll, has broken his long public silence on the illegal structures row, saying it was “unfair” of rival Leung Chun-ying to attack him for infractions that Leung himself had committed.
Tang, a former chief secretary, was initially the frontrunner in the chief executive race in March, but lost popularity and Beijing’s support after an illegal basement was found in his house in Kowloon Tong.
In a radio interview on Thursday morning, Tang recalled how he reacted upon learning Leung had illegal structures at his own home on The Peak. He exclaimed, “Wow, is that possible?”
Leung’s structures were revealed in late June, shortly before he took office as chief executive.
”When I was criticised for having unauthorised structures, of course I and other citizens would believe that [Leung] didn’t [have unauthorised structures at his home],” Tang said.
Tang recalled how Leung tore into him during a televised election debate, criticising Tang for “hiding the truth” about his unauthorised structures.
“Moreover, one of his aides distributed leaflets outside my house during the election period, claiming I should withdraw the chief executive race because of the illegal structures scandal,” Tang said.
“Looking back, I find that pretty hilarious,” he said. “It was unfair [of Leung] to attack me over my illegal structures while he himself had the same problem.”
Tang recalled Leung’s statement that he had merely shown negligence in his mishandling the unauthorised structures at his home on The Peak, rather than deliberately hiding the truth.
“If this is called negligence,” Tang said, “I really hope there won’t be any negligence in his governance in the future.”
Almost a year after the unauthorised structures were exposed under his York Road home, Tang said he was still unable to “remove a brick” from it because the Buildings Department was continuing its investigations.
He doubted the government was dealing with the matter fairly, because his lawyers and architects told him they have never seen such a lengthy probe into an unauthorised structure.
He will file a submission to the government on Friday, seeking approval for his plan to seal off the unauthorised basement with a brick wall.
As for Leung’s maiden policy address, which is due in about two weeks, Tang said he hoped Leung would use it to set out a blueprint for his governance over the next five years.
Tang declined to say whether he will run again, saying that he will consider the matter after he has finished dealing with the unauthorised structures at his home.