You would have thought that most people have heard all they want to hear about Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung’s infamous illegal structures and his nefarious plot to hide them and subsequently pretend he didn’t know he had them. But someone rather badly wants you to hear more, and again more.
Much to the delight of headline writers, the spotlight turns from the dastardly trellis and the criminal carport roof to a wall. The wall was not in the right place, so on June 27 the Buildings Department sent CY a letter demanding to know why. With three full days to go before becoming Chief Executive of Hong Kong he should have had ample time to write back with full details. A further three letters followed. CY (or more probably his secretary or lawyer – or maybe wife!) ‘ignored’ them (if you’re the South China Morning Post) or ‘refused to reply’ (according to the Standard).
The world naturally reels in horror at this outrage. Or at least at the impressive output of correspondence from the clearly mega-productive government bureaucracy concerned. But wait! There’s more!
CY said a few days ago that he had no previous experience of hiding/lying about/fixing illegal structures, and this obviously made dealing with the current situation all the more difficult. But… After much rummaging around by someone, a December 2000 Buildings Department press release appears, showing that he removed an unauthorized glass corridor from his former house.
We would naturally like to ask the obvious question: what the hell is a glass corridor exactly? But not before we get to the bottom of CY’s glaring untruth, for which there can only be two explanations:
1. He vividly recalled the glass corridor event 12 years ago, but deliberately lied about it – calculating that no-one would check the old newspaper clippings, and betting that the public would naturally feel more sympathy for an illegal-structures virgin than for a seasoned UBW repeat offender.
2. He forgot.
The Standard’s ‘Mary Ma’ column mentions a rumour that CY’s decision to issue that 14-page explanatory statement on the unauthorized building works saga without holding a press conference followed advice from Beijing’s local Liaison Office. With PR advisors like that, who needs the Standard? But the column also hints that Rita Fan and Paul Tse, mentioned here yesterday, are backing off from their anti-CY stance. Which suggests that the Liaison Office people, after trying their hand at press-relations consultancy, are getting back to what they do best: making slightly menacing phone calls to bring strays into line. From which we can conclude that the cascade of mind-numbing CY Leung illegal-structure outrages may soon run its course, at least so far as the pro-Beijing establishment is concerned.
We will look back at this one day and laugh about it. Especially at the lengthy list of CY’s home’s construction misdemeanours released for our reading pleasure by the Buildings Department yesterday. For example…
The storage cabinet originally placed in the parking space was thus exposed in open air and became an outdoor structure. After taking the measurements of the storage cabinet, it was confirmed that the storage cabinet was an actionable item…
Would you reply to letters from these people?
Note under House 4, second item: “a metal gate erected at the access road near the house”.
Oh my – Metalgate-gate!
Henry Tang was exposed as a liar and had to resign.
Now CY has been exposed as a liar as well.
He has no choice but to resign.
The record indicates that Henry Tang was exposed as a buffoon of proportions so colossal as to disbar him even from being CE of Hong Kong.
The ‘liar’ part of that was fairly incidental.
The BD must elicit some sympathy. They have to enforce the almost unenforceable, since they can’t go round bashing down people’s doors, try to treat all alleged culprits equally, account for their own actions, and not respond too much to press pressure, while checking up on their own staff, who do the minimum to get by (passive aggression).
The context, after all, is that liveable space on the peak costs about $40k per sq ft, so the invariable temptation is to put several maids in the underground toilet, to erect temporary-looking structures with holes in them or that you can see through (you can always improve them later), to put the local equivalent of priest-holes, caravans and abandoned cars in the yard, to incrementally extend up and down and sideways, to experimentally lay subreptitious claim to an islet of land or two in such a way as to make it seem you’ve always been there.
Henry Tang converted the void space under his house into a fully integral part of the building. this added a massive amount of sqft to his house
It was a flagrent deliberate violation of the plot ratio rules by a man at the heart of the government responsible for upholding those rules and showed his utter contempt for the rule of law.
CY has a glass cover over the patio to keep the rain off
@Joe Blow, yes, of course, he has no choice but to resign. What an evil liar who surely wouldn’t fix our poverty issues or much blown-up property market because he lied about his metal gate and his 12-year-old glass-corridor scandal! Let’s hail Henry back! Is this little cutesy you’re thinking about? Oh imagine how he’d stamp down on all our tycoons, making them beg on their knees. Or is it a universal suffrage you’re thinking about? Even better! The day of Great Hong Kong Revolution has finally dawned! March, pan-dems!
From singing the words “We don’t need no thought control” a few weeks back, now CY’s tenure is defined by ‘the Wall’.
Coming soon: A Momentary Lapse of Reason.
I wonder if he’s getting a cut of Pink Floyd’s royalties?
[PS. Did Henry Tang resign, Joe? I just thought he got fewer votes from the shoe-shiner selection committee.]
[PPS. And what’s happened to the investigation into Henry’s basement?]
The wallpaper on my desktop is a photo of a lovely Hong Kong sports ground surrounded by a pile of old buildings. The buildings have been so added to, and altered, and enhanced in all sorts of ways, that you can barely see where the original building begins. There are bits poking out all over the place, pipes in all directions, clothes, rust, different coloured paint. All buildings should look like this. This is one of the things I love about Hong Kong. That it offends some people so much that they complain about it, makes it even better.
I am shocked that Hemlock has exposed himself as a bona fide CY lover/ apologist.
What’s next ?
A “Profile of the week: Regina” ?
A puff piece about Rita Fan ?
A guest column by Mike Rowse ?
Hand me a bucket please: my sweet-and-sour pork is going to re-enter the atmosphere….
What, yet another piece from Hemlock pointing out there are too many CY IS articles in the press. That is self evident but surely the persistent commentary on the phenomenon (as opposed to addressing all the other topics out there) is rather pointless as well as very boring.
Even if they can’t openly admit that he’s no different to any other HK “politician”, can everyone who hailed CY as the answer to all our prayers please stop apologising for him and trying to convince the rest of us that h “will get the job done”?
Why waste the effort trying to unseat the impressively scandal-generating CY? The pool of possible replacements is full of floating turds that would be as incapable of addressing the city’s real problems.
What Hong Kong needs are for property prices in the village house/middle-range flat segment to fall 30 percent to realistic levels.
Current property owners can chill out in their boxes for a couple of years until the prices come back up while the rest of us all pile in, buy a flat and never have to concern ourselves with greedy old Mrs Wong who lives in England putting the rent up by 50 friggin’ percent.
The danger is that Beijing will dump CY and bring in a “temporary” replacement from Up North. Then the shit will really hit the fan.
Henry Tang built the house in which an illegal basement (of over 2,000sq ft) was discovered. So, he actually presented false architectural drawings to the buildings department, when applying for license to build the house, with the intent of not paying the additional lands premium which would have been required, for an additional 2,000 st ft of living space. Over the years since building this house, he has also paid less annual land tax, due to the fact that he never intended being honest with the Hong Kong government, about his illegal 2,000 sq ft basement. This is as such a criminal case, with the obvious intent to deceive the Hong Kong Government, of tax revenue.
There is no comparison, using a few additional external features, added by CY at his house at The Peak.
Sorry, but end of story.
We are talking about a legal issue, and legally speaking there is no difference between an illegal olympic-size swimming pool or an illegal goldfish tank. THAT is the end of the story. Please stop trying to justify CY’s illegalities and move on to more interesting topics.
The real point is made by Old Timer that the replacement may be worse. So, stop trying to interpret the law and either say that it should only apply to people you don’t like, or lobby to get it changed.
Oh, Mark. So true! Gosh. Compared to Henry, CY is a saint! That makes CY whiter than white!! Totally absolved, he must be! He’s not a sneaky slimebag after all! All along he’s not meant to mislead or decieve anybody at all!!
[PS. Not just “external features” — CY had an illegal basement too, you know. Only about 1/10th as big as Henry’s, true. But enough to add a few dollars onto the lands premium, perhaps.]
[PPS. At least *some* progress is being made here – in that we’re not just talking about the bloody trellis anymore …]
The Emporer has no clothes
It may take a child to point this out, but Hemlock is correct (as is Mark Houston)
CY is not a saint. He’s not the best choice. He’s not even a good choice. But think what other (illegal structure-owning) choices we have left. Seriously, if pan-democrats have the balls to start a revolution, I’ll ditch CY in a second. But if they just want to make a scene to get CY less popular and themselves less embarrassed, I’ll ask them to just gimme a break and stop acting like children who can’t get what they want! After all, show me guts or get lost!
This is all really rather beside the point. The law is what it is; the bureaucracy is what it is. The general public has to deal with it, and so must CY. If the law is being an ass in this case, then he should do something to fix it, and he must make sure he abides by it until such time as the rules are changed.
You don’t get a free pass to pick and choose which rules you abide by because you’re rich.
@ Slavia Wanderer
I agree 100%
Hemmer’s view is that of a child telling the obvious truth
The pan-demos are adults who behave as stupid silly children.
Anon has hit the nail on the head, unfortunately I think he’s nailing it into a brick wall. People don’t like Henry, so his offence must be punished. People thought CY was an angel sent from heaven and are unable to admit that he’s no better than any other member of the establishment, so his offence is entirely understandable and the law should be applied flexibly. I have no particular interest in seeing CY ousted because the belief that the puppet in the front rank has any bearing on the actions of our government is a peculiarly delusionional state of mind which I have been unable to reach – perhaps I am not taking the right medication.
I, for one, am thoroughly bored with the apologists. Small children do not make laws. If you don’t like the law, go do something about it. Stop trying to foist your legally indefensible opinions on this tiny world of blog commenters.