Henry Tang lashes out at chief executive in illegal basement row
Chief executive's role in the affair during poll campaign described as unfair and laughable
Tony Cheung and Olga Wong
Nearly 10 months after losing the chief executive election, Henry Tang Ying-yen broke his silence about the illegal basement scandal that sank his campaign, criticising rival Leung Chun-ying's role in the affair.
Tang said it was unfair and laughable for Leung to have attacked him for having an illegal basement at his home when Leung also had unauthorised installations.
Tang said he would challenge the Buildings Department over a proposal to seal his luxurious 2,250 sq ft basement in Kowloon Tong with a brick wall - just like Leung did to a 320 sq ft basement in one of his homes on The Peak.
Speaking on Commercial Radio, Tang said that when he first learned of Leung's basement, he thought: "Wow, is that possible?" He recalled that during a televised debate in March, Leung chided him for "hiding the truth" about illegal structures at his home in York Road.
"When I was criticised for having unauthorised structures, of course other residents and I believed that [Leung] did not [have any of his own]," he said.
Leung supporter Lew Mon-hung even "distributed leaflets outside my home, saying I shouldn't run for the top job because I had unauthorised structures" - a move Tang said he now found laughable.
Tang was the front runner in the race for chief executive last year until it was revealed a month before the March 25 poll that his properties contained illegal structures. He then admitted his "basement garage was extended to store groceries", but was later accused of lying when surveyors confirmed the big basement.
Four months later, at least six illegal structures were revealed at Leung's houses.
Tang said he had wanted to rectify his structural issues over the past 10 months but was warned against doing so as the investigation was not complete.
He doubted if the government was dealing with the matter fairly because his lawyers and architects said they had never seen such an in-depth probe into illegal structures before.
The Buildings Department said it was expecting an acceptable plan from the owners to handle the illegal structures but would not comment on details as it was now a criminal inquiry. It would enforce the laws without regard to who was involved.