Auckland mayor still has questions to answer over sex scandal, says ex-lover Bevan Chuang
Grandfather of 32-year-old who had an affair with Auckland mayor was leading industrialist
Bevan Chuang Ka-Yan, the woman at the centre of a mayoral sex scandal in New Zealand, has talked for the first time about her roots in a prominent Hong Kong family - and revealed she still hasn't talked to her father about the affair.
Chuang's two-year relationship with Auckland mayor Len Brown, 57, was disclosed in October, sparking a public outcry and prompting an investigation into possible misuse of public money and resources by Brown to benefit his 32-year-old lover.
Speaking to the Sunday Morning Post yesterday, Chuang said her grandfather was the late philanthropist and industrialist Chuang Chung-wen , who founded Chuang's Holdings, now Chuang's Consortium, a listed developer with properties in Hong Kong, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mongolia and Taiwan. He died in 1993 aged 83.
The company's portfolio in Hong Kong includes the 21-storey Chuang's Tower in Central, London Plaza in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hung Hom Plaza and Parkes Residence in Kowloon.
Chuang's father is Andrew Chuang Siu-leung , 66, a former chairman of the operations review committee - the watchdog that monitors the work of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. She said she is in touch with him regularly. "I haven't talked to my dad about the affair; eventually, I will," she said.
The anthropology graduate was 15 years old when she moved to Auckland with her father, mother and younger sister.
She said her father returned to Hong Kong after a few years and was now divorced from her mother.
Last week an 18-page report detailing the results of the investigation into the affair cleared Brown of giving Chuang preferential treatment by recommending her for a job.
Chuang welcomed the report: "It is good for me because it clears the questions that people have been asking about preferential treatment. But the mayor still has a lot of questions to answer to his family and his people."
The report found that Brown failed to disclose free hotel rooms and upgrades - one of which related to a night with Chuang - and that he had used his taxpayer-funded phone to call and send texts to her hundreds of times.
The investigation cleared Chuang of any connection to a trip Brown made to Hong Kong and Guangzhou in November 2011 but yesterday she called for the probe to be widened to look at possible breaches of the council's code of conduct during their two-year affair. "I think he should pay back the money for those personal calls and some people have called on the auditor-general to review the code of conduct."
Chuang, who lives with her mother, 59, and sister, 31, said that her life had returned to normal and she was focusing on her work as an events manager.
"It has been a challenging time but I've bounced back. It's made me stronger and there's not much that could scare me now," she said. "What I did was wrong but for people who knew, there wasn't an easy way out because the mayor pursued me quite aggressively. It was a terrible mistake by both parties."
Chuang said she remains a hopeless romantic and wants to get married and start a family. While she has no immediate plans to return to Hong Kong, she said if any opportunities came up, she would consider them. "If I do leave, it will not be because I am running away but rather due to work opportunities elsewhere," she said.
She attended the Creative Primary School in Kowloon Tong and moved to Singapore International School in Aberdeen when she was in year four before going to Chinese International School and completing high school in Auckland. "I keep in touch with a lot of friends in Hong Kong and I go back every two or three years," she said, adding her last trip was Christmas in 2010.
Her father was involved in consultations over the drafting of the Basic Law before the handover and is executive director of battery-maker Gold Peak Industries.
"He has done quite a lot of work with government advisory bodies and he was an official guest at the handover ceremony which we came back for," Chuang said.
Additional reporting by Benjamin Robertson