A structural engineer who quit a project to build a lavish illegal basement under the Kowloon Tong home of former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen praised Tang's wife as a "good employer" in court yesterday. Lisa Kuo Yu-chin paid him in full for the work he had put in between 2002 and 2003 although she had decided to replace him as consultant on her redevelopment project, engineer Chezy Tang Wai-chau said. "Lisa was a good employer," he told Kowloon City Court. "She paid me according to the schedule of the work, not a penny more, not a penny less. She was very generous." Chezy Tang also said he believed it was entirely Kuo's decision to end his services, after he objected strongly to the basement plans. Tang was testifying at the trial of architect Henry Ho Chung-yi, structural engineer Wong Pak-lam and contractor Hien Lee Engineering. The defendants deny starting construction of a basement in the York Road home without planning approval in 2005. The basement, dubbed an "underground palace", reportedly measured 2,400 square feet and contained a wine cellar, gymnasium and Japanese bath. Tang told the court that at a meeting on September 1, 2003, "sparks flew" when Ho asked him to change the foundation design to incorporate a basement. He did not think Ho had advised Kuo to dispense with him. Barrister James Lee, representing Ho, alleged Tang must have known about the basement plan as early as December 2002 as he had added HK$70,000 in fees in a quotation submitted for the consultancy contract to cover work on a basement. Tang objected, saying Ho had asked him to give a price in case such construction work came up. He also gave another price that excluded such work. Ho did not reveal details such as the size of the basement; his instruction was only "to quote a price". Tang said when he held the first meeting with Ho and Kuo on December 19 that year, they did not discuss building a basement. He said that Ho, as the architect, was responsible for applying for government approval for the entire project. If Kuo wanted to build a basement, it was Ho's duty to make the application. Tang insisted he was unaware of the basement plan until July the next year, when he was in the process of designing the foundation for a three-storey house. On August 28, 2003, Ho faxed him some documents and asked him to change the foundation plan. The trio met again four days later about the basement, and Tang opposed the idea. Nine days later he was told he would be replaced. The trial continues on Monday.