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Hong Kong justice minister has more illegal structures on other properties, government confirms

Government released statement late on Sunday night confirming Cheng had illegal structures on at least one other property

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 January, 2018, 12:34am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 January, 2018, 7:21am

Hong Kong’s beleaguered justice minister has at least one other property with three illegal structures on it, the government revealed late on Sunday night, hours after she dropped a strong hint of this possibility.

Earlier in the day, Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah apologised at least seven times for failing to deal with the illegal ­additions at her New Territories home before taking office earlier this month.

The property revealed in the latest statement is in Southern District on Hong Kong Island. Earlier checks of Land Registry records reveal that she holds, via a company, at least two other properties besides her Tuen Mun home – a flat and a unit in an industrial building.

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In a statement released late on Sunday, the government said that besides Cheng’s house in Tuen Mun, all her other properties had been examined.

Her property in the Southern District was found to have three unregistered alterations which had existed when she bought it.

“The authorised person has also on behalf of the secretary reported the findings to the Buildings Department and parts of the rectification work will commence as soon as possible” it said.

As two of the rectifications would involve the exterior walls of the property, an approval from the Property Management Committee was required.

The statement added that the authorised person had some doubts about the fire rating of the kitchen door of one of Cheng’s two properties in Sha Tin. Besides this, no rectifications were needed.

“The secretary understands public concerns over the issue and will keep the public informed of the latest development when appropriate,” it said.

Land Registry records show that Cheng bought a 2,000 sq ft flat in Sea Cliff Mansions on 19C Repulse Bay Road for HK$62 million in September last year.

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There are no removal orders concerning illegal structures from the Buildings Department registered under the property.

But the department had issued multiple orders to previous owners requiring them to repair a dangerous hillside, followed by letters notifying the owners had complied with the orders.

The property is registered under Cheng’s name. Her three other properties in Tuen Mun and Sha Tin are registered under the names of her companies.

Cheng said on a Commercial Radio programme earlier on Sunday, her first interview since January 10, that she had never considered quitting her post. She also hoped that instead of focusing on her home, people would turn their attention to her department’s work and the “many important issues” facing Hong Kong.

Asked whether she had checked for unauthorised structures at other properties she owned, Cheng said: “I’ve already asked authorised persons to look into other properties, and have been following up on what needs to be done.”

After the programme, she was again asked whether she owned other properties with illegal additions. “Yes, there are other properties, I have already said just now that I have already engaged ­authorised persons to look into them and they are being dealt with,” she said.