Development chief Paul Chan Mo-po should answer all the questions over the ownership of land in the New Territories that has sparked concerns about a conflict of interest, the Legislative Council president said yesterday.
Jasper Tsang Yok-sing said on a radio programme Chan had failed to properly gauge the extent of the scandal - first exposed by a Chinese-language newspaper early last week - and chose to answer public queries "bit by bit".
"For politicians, perception is the reality. If you give a public impression that you lie from the beginning, then whatever you say will be considered as untrue," Tsang said. He refused to say whether Chan should quit.
The minister is under pressure to resign or withdraw from involvement in the development of a new town at Kwu Tung North, where his family owns 18,000 square feet of farmland. His wife, Frieda Hui Po-ming, on Thursday released a sales contract that showed she had sold her shares in the company that bought the land to a family member.
Tsang said replacing Chan with someone else to lead development would be "the worst arrangement". "The plan is the top priority for the Development Bureau. It is unacceptable if the secretary can't handle it," he said.
A senior government source said Chan had no intention of quitting and the administration was not pressuring him to do so.
A sales contract showed she sold her shares to her brother, Hui Ka-lun, for HK$2.7 million last year, to be paid in three instalments. She said she received the sum through a bank on October 10, February 7 and June 13. Apple Daily reported yesterday the brother was once declared bankrupt. According to the Official Receiver's Office, Hui Ka-lun went bankrupt in 2002 and left bankruptcy in 2006.
Democratic Party lawmaker To Kun-sun said the report raised doubts about the transaction. "Of course a person could rebuild his fortune from nothing, but to arrange millions of dollars in such a short time is not easy."