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  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 8:21pm

Paul Chan Mo-po

Paul Chan Mo-po is Hong Kong's Secretary for Development. An accountant and the former President of the Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA), he was appointed by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying after the resignation of Mak Chai-kwong following a housing allowance scandal. In July 2013, Chan was accused of a conflict of interest when it was revealed that he or his family had an interest in a plot of land in the New Territories that the government had plans to develop.

NewsHong Kong

18,000 sq ft plot is no stockpile, Paul Chan’s wife declares

Lawmakers accuse her of distracting attention from minister's failure to declare interest

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 3:32pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 30 July, 2013, 7:22am

Lawmakers remained unconvinced yesterday after development minister Paul Chan Mo-po's wife said that if she wanted to stockpile land with development potential in the New Territories she would have bought more than one plot in 19 years.

With her husband still embroiled in a conflict-of-interest row over farmland at Kwu Tung that is included in a new town plan, Frieda Hui Po-ming made the point in a statement published in several Chinese-language newspapers yesterday.

She also apologised for causing her family trouble over the land and insisted that her husband had never owned the 18,000 square foot plot.

"It is not a stockpile of land," she said. "If it was, I would not have bought just one plot of land over 19 years."

Cyd Ho Sau-lan of the Labour Party said: "It doesn't matter if she bought only one piece of land or lots of land. Former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung stepped down just because he bought a car before he raised the vehicle tax."

Hui said the land was bought through Statement Industries in 1994, but the government did not announce Kwu Tung as a "potential strategic development site" until 1996.

Having already sold her interest in the company that holds the land, she further pledged in the statement to disclose all documents related to her own family's connection to the site. The land is due to be sold by open tender at market price.

She also condemned journalists for following her children.

Lawmakers passed a non-binding motion last Friday calling on Chan to step down, and thousands of people joined a march on Sunday to express their dissatisfaction with him.

The Legislative Council development panel will hold its third and fourth hearing on the Northeast New Territories Redevelopment plan today and tomorrow. It proposes new towns at Fan Ling North and Kwu Tung North and includes the plot in question.

Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok said Hui was trying to distract the public from the key issues. "Chan's inability to declare interest publicly and the actual and substantial gain involved are the main points."

He said Chan, as the bureau chief, could no longer lead the redevelopment project, urging him to hold himself accountable and step down.



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Let’s focus on what is the most important aspect of the system of declaration of interests. Declaration of interests does not entitle a person to do something wrong. Say a robber makes a declaration of interests to a policeman that he will obtain benefits (his interests) from the money he is going to rob another person. (The robber has conflicting interest with the one being robbed.) The robber’s declaration does not give him the right to rob another person. It is obvious the most important thing the policeman must do after the robber’s declaration is to stop him. It follows that the system of declaration of interests, however improved, is of no use if the reportee (the one to whom the conflict of interest is reported) does not take action to prevent the conflicts of interest. In this case, who is the more accountable culprit?
I dont know what Frieda is trying to get at. When the farmland is sold at market price through open tender later she or rather her family will have reaped the rewards through an inflated price brought about by the involvement of her husband on the project. What she was right about though is her children should be spared from this ordeal.
Paul Chan and wife may be stupid and naive, but Hong Kongers should not be upset that some members of our society have accumulated assets (especially 19 years ago when he does not know he will one day become the development secretary). Is there a conflict of interest? Yes, but he has actually satisfied our disclosure regulations for public officials. Hong Kong should strengthen its laws on disclosures and Paul Chan is a stupid fellow, but there is no point to waste so much energy on such a small piece of land.
19 years ago he might have known through his various memberships and on Legislative Council of the plans to develop that area of the New Territories. He would have benefitted even without being Development Secretary. Why else do they have a piece of land there lying unused but nowhere else?
And very special thanks to David Wong for ripping that enormously informative and illustrative photo off Google StreetView.



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