CY Leung promises to look into public housing controversy after phone call with Eddie Chu
Office of chief executive confirms they spoke and that other officials would follow up interdepartmental issues raised
Hundreds of Hongkongers gathered in solidarity with Eddie Chu Hoi-dick outside police headquarters on Sunday as the newly elected lawmaker facing death threats said the city’s leader had promised to look into a controversial public housing project.
The phone call from Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Saturday came after Chu, a veteran activist who had for years taken on vested interests over land rights in New Territories, faced escalated death threats since bagging 84,121 votes in the Legislative Council elections last Sunday.
At a rally against political violence organised by Christian groups and attended by hundreds outside police headquarters in Admiralty on Sunday Chu said he raised three issues with Leung in a seven-minute conversation.
He said he asked Leung to explain to the public why the government would abandon a public housing project at a Wang Chau brownfield site in Yuen Long – which could have provided 17,000 flats – and instead opted for a scaled-down version with only 4,000 flats in another site where three villages are now located.
Rural landlords strongly opposed the Wang Chau plan. It is understood the police, who since Thursday had offered Chu 24-hour protection, were investigating whether a rural strongman with triad connections was behind the death threats.
“[Leung] said he would instruct Paul Chan Mo-po to look into the case,” Chu said, adding he would meet the development minister this week with other lawmakers specialising in land issues.
The environmentalist-turned-lawmaker also said he asked Leung whether he would back an amendment to the Heung Yee Kuk Ordinance, which could make the powerful rural body more transparent and democratic, and whether he would address “collusion between the government, business, rural strongmen and triads”.
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Chu said Leung directed him to seek comments from home affairs minister Lau Kong-wah on the ordinance amendment and sidestepped his last question.
“I am actually pleased that [Leung] is willing to engage in such discussion with me rather than just voicing concern over my family’s safety,” he said. “At least he knows what I’m talking about.”
Chu also said that he had met security chief Lai Tung-kwok in the government headquarters on Friday for half an hour.
Police on Saturday night sent 80 officers from the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau and Police Tactical Unit to patrol bars, arcades and mahjong clubs in Yuen Long to crack down on triad activities there.
A spokesman for the office of the chief executive confirmed the phone call between Leung and Chu. He said the city’s leader would instruct other officials to follow up the issues Chu raised.
“The chief executive also welcomes Mr Chu to contact him directly any time on matters regarding his personal safety and the administration’s governance,” the spokesman added.
Separately, New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee yesterday said Chu’s idea of moving his family to the Legco complex was “impractical” and that his predicament was a reflection of the city’s housing shortage.
Chu said that perhaps Ip, the city’s former security chief who was protected by security guards, “might not know what danger is”.