Paul Chan

Pan-democrats demand answers from development minister Paul Chan

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 October, 2013, 11:54pm

Pan-democrat lawmakers will press ahead with a move to grill a top government minister at the centre of a conflict of interest row using special legislative powers - despite the fact it is doomed to fail.

Pan-democrats want to question development minister Paul Chan Mo-po over his ownership of farmland in Kwu Tung that could become more valuable under a plan for a new town.

The land forms part of a wider area in which the government plans to develop a new town in the northeast New Territories to alleviate the city's housing shortage.

But pro-Beijing opponents of the plan to grill Chan outnumber pan-democrats in the Legislative Council. They say they will reject any motion to invoke the Powers and Privileges Ordinance.

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki plans to table a motion at the first full Legco session after the summer recess next Wednesday calling for an inquiry.

The motion will be discussed by legislators at tomorrow's House Committee.

Kwok said the row had brought Chan's credibility and conduct into question.

"We have given him enough time to disclose the directorship of the three companies involved, which are registered in the British Virgin Islands, but he has not done so," he said.

Kwok said it would not be known if Chan's family still had ties with the land unless he disclosed the relevant details.

But Ip Kwok-him, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, derided the move as "a political gesture".

"Chan has already tried his best to explain. I don't think an investigation by Legco is necessary," he said.

Pan-democrats said their move did not mean they would boycott other policies put forward by Chan's bureau.

They also called for pro-Beijing parties to support the motion.