Legislators have decided to summon a lawyer who has been a friend of former housing chief Leung Chin-man for 37 years to testify before a Legco panel, after learning about his role in New World China Land's controversial hiring of the ex-official after his retirement. Chung Kwok-cheong, whom Mr Leung described as a 'family friend' and a 'student' with whom he discussed philosophical questions, is expected to appear before lawmakers as early as the first week of next month. He is a consultant at law firm Cheung, Chan & Chung. At yesterday's inquiry, Mr Leung told lawmakers it was Mr Chung who introduced him to New World China Land chairman Henry Cheng Kar-shun at a cocktail reception at the University of Hong Kong in 2006. Two years later the solicitor also acted as the contact for a lunch between the two, during which the tycoon invited Mr Leung to join his company. Despite Mr Chung's role in the deal, the former housing chief said his friend was not involved in subsequent negotiations. 'I believe he only learned about my new job after the company announced it in a press release.' Lawmakers questioned why Mr Leung, then permanent secretary for housing, planning and lands, had nominated Mr Chung as a member of the Housing Authority's commercial properties committee in 2003, despite the fact that he had handled a lawsuit on behalf of New World Development against the authority in 2003. Mr Leung said he had not been aware the lawyer was involved in the lawsuit until Mr Cheng told the select committee's previous hearing on April 18. 'As a government department head, how could you not read documents to see if the candidate had any potential conflict of interest when you nominated him?' Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat asked. Mr Leung said he had followed standard procedure by passing the work to colleagues after making a recommendation. Asked to comment on Mr Chung's performance during his two years with the committee, Mr Leung said it had been up to standard, although he could have voiced more opinions during meetings. The former housing chief, who appeared confrontational at times during 31/2 hours of questioning, softened when recounting the story of his friendship with Mr Chung. 'Among my many friends, he is the only one who never asks about my work,' he said. 'We talk about Buddhism and Kant. That is why I cherish our friendship so much.' The two had met in 1972 through a teacher of Mr Chung, who was then still a secondary school pupil, and had maintained the relationship because of their common interest in philosophy. 'He treats me as his teacher ... And until now, I have treated him as my student,' Mr Leung said. Select committee members later agreed to call Mr Chung to testify.