Legco panel votes to summon Link chiefs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 May, 2006, 12:00am

Legislators have voted to summon two bosses of The Link Management after the company declined to send representatives to discuss how it manages shops and car parks in public housing estates.

The move comes amid complaints about rent increases in the facilities formerly run by the Housing Authority, and fears of pay cuts and layoffs for cleaners and security staff.

The Legislative Council's housing panel voted strongly in favour of summoning non-executive chairman Paul Cheng Ming-fun, chief executive Victor So Hing-woh and the government officials involved. The representatives were invited to its meeting yesterday, but the company declined, saying daily channels of operation should be used to resolve issues at the local level.

'The Link may lay off thousands of cleaners and security staff to cut back on management costs,' said unionist legislator Wong Kwok-hing, who moved the motion, which passed, with one abstention - by 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung. 'We need to talk to The Link Management face to face to address this issue, as it is affecting the livelihood of grass-roots people.'

Frederick Fung Kin-kee said The Link Management had yet to consider community needs.

'The Link is charging non-profit-making organisations for using their venues for community activities. Before then, it used to be free,' Mr Fung said. 'The Link is a private company, but it also involves public money. I think it should answer to the public.'

The legislators also questioned Mr Cheng's background. He was a senior adviser to Deutsche Bank, which holds a 5 per cent stake in The Link real estate investment trust that owns the shops and car parks.

A spokesman for the Housing, Lands and Works Bureau said The Link had full autonomy in managing and operating the facilities. As long as it complied with the law, conditions of government leases, and terms of agreements with the authority, neither the latter nor the government could interfere in its day-to-day management, business strategies or operations.