Paul Chan will not face investigation over alleged conflict of interest

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 8:32am

The development minister escaped the prospect of more grilling in the legislature after lawmakers voted to reject a probe into his alleged conflict of interest in government plans for the northeastern New Territories.

With the help of pro-establishment lawmakers, a motion to invoke the Legislative Council's special powers to set up an inquiry committee was vetoed 28 to 39 yesterday.

Supporters of the motion said they believed an inquiry could provide a platform for Development Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po to come clean. Chan apologised again for his "bungled explanation" of the incident, but reiterated his declaration of interests had met government requirements.

"My wife, son and I have no more interests in the new-town development plan now," he said.

In July, Chan became the subject of a media exposé that found farmland owned by his family in Kwu Tung North fell within the government's new-town project.

He said his wife last year sold her stake in a company that owned the land to her younger brother for HK$2.7 million after he learned the site would be part of the redevelopment.

Before the legislature retired for the summer recess, he faced questions in at least four meetings of Legco's development panel, which passed a non-binding motion urging him to quit.

Yesterday, Chan said Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki's move to invoke the Powers and Privileges Ordinance to interrogate him further was unfair.

Pan-democratic lawmaker Leung Yiu-chung, who voted for the motion, said: "It would be difficult for the government to implement policies if Hongkongers no longer trust Chan."

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said Legco should not waste time on the incident. "The government and Legco have more important issues to deal with," she said.