Tang and wife in court over alleged illegal basement
Defeated chief executive accompanies wife who stands accused of breaching building regulations
Henry Tang Ying-yen pledged support for his wife yesterday as she appeared in court over alleged breaches of buildings regulations in relation to a basement in their Kowloon Tong home.
Revelations of the allegedly illegal so-called underground palace were widely blamed for Tang's defeat in last year's chief executive elections. Reports at the time said it was 2,400 sq ft and housed a wine cellar, home theatre, gym and a Japanese bath.
Yesterday, Tang and wife Lisa Kuo Yu-chin smiled in front of about 40 journalists and photographers before entering Kowloon City Court, where Kuo and three others facing related charges were due to enter pleas.
"Today I came with my wife to attend the hearing," Tang said. "I support my wife, so we are attending together."
He added: "Attending the hearing today, I have great faith in Hong Kong's judicial system. I, myself, really deeply believe that before the law everyone is equal. We will receive fair treatment."
Tang, who was appointed to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference earlier this year, declined to comment on the case itself as the legal proceedings were ongoing.
Kuo, architect Henry Ho Chung-yi, structural engineer Wong Pak-lam, and contractor Hien Lee Engineering are accused of breaching the Buildings Ordinance.
In two summonses, Kuo is accused of being responsible for starting or carrying out the construction of the basement at the house at 7 York Road without first obtaining approval and consent from the Building Authority.
The alleged offences occurred between August 26, 2005, and February 16 last year.
Kuo's barrister, Gary Plowman SC, asked Principal Magistrate Clement Lee Hing-nin to postpone taking his client's plea.
Plowman said much of the evidence was technical and it appeared prosecutors had three expert witnesses. He said Kuo and her lawyers needed time to consider the evidence and whether to call expert witnesses of their own. The magistrate adjourned the case to June 5.
The three other defendants are accused of constructing an upper part of the basement without permission from the Building Authority between August 26, 2005, and January 22, 2007.
Ho and Wong are also accused of misrepresenting on a form on January 22, 2007, that the building at 7 York Road was erected in accordance with plans approved by the authority.