Paul Chan

Paul Chan land scandal to paralyse Development Bureau, say lawmakers

Scandal-hit Development Bureau chief refuses to step down as legislators call for his head and question other commercial dealings

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 July, 2013, 5:27am

Lawmakers vowed yesterday to "paralyse" the Development Bureau after its controversy-plagued chief, Paul Chan Mo-po, ignored a Legislative Council motion calling on him to step down.

Speaking after the motion was passed 11 to 7 by the Legco development panel - in the absence of seven pro-government lawmakers - Chan said his colleagues at the bureau had expressed support for him in the past few days.

When the government comes to seek funding for the new town project and approval for new posts after the summer recess, we will try to stop it through different ways
People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip

"They are happy to carry on working with me and I'm still committed to serving Hong Kong," said Chan, still embroiled in a conflict-of-interest row over ownership of land in the New Territories that is to become part of a new town.

People Power lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip, who moved the motion on the second day of a special Legco development panel meeting to discuss the row that has engulfed Chan this week, said the party would use various means to "paralyse" the bureau.

"When the government comes to seek funding for the new town project and approval for new posts after the summer recess, we will try to stop it through different ways," he said after the meeting. "A filibuster will be one."

Reports in the past few days showed that Chan's wife, Frieda Hui Po-ming, and son had co-owned with others - through a number of companies - 18,000 sq ft of land in Kwu Tung North, which is earmarked as a new town. Chan, as a company director at the time, although not a shareholder, bought the land in 1994, two years before the area was identified for development.

The minister reiterated yesterday that his wife had sold all her land interests in the area in October.

Before the vote, pan-democratic lawmakers called on Chan to resign.

"You can no longer carry on policies because whatever you do, people will still focus on this scandal. You have become a negative asset to the government. You should go now," said Democratic Party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing.

A second motion urging Chan to disclose all his personal and family property interests related to the new town project was voted down. Pro-government legislator Ann Chiang Lai-wan, who opposed it, said it would mean the minister would have to reveal his friends' interests, too.

Asked to comment, Chan said: "What time frame do you want for disclosure? … Does the word 'family' include my wife's relatives?"

Chan also gave a new clarification on last year's subdivided-flat scandal, in which his wife was accused of running a business that turned old flats into horror homes. He said her holding was held "in trust" for a friend.

Dennis Kwok of the Civic Party was not convinced.

"There is no document to show trust ownership," he said. "The arrangement is strange."