Lands Department Assistant Director Anita Lam allegedly bought an 80,000 square foot plot in Kam Tin, Yuen Long, for HK$18.8 million (US$2.43 million) two years ago, after the Development Bureau published a review of land use for the area, Ming Pao Daily News reported Wednesday.
In April, the government announced plans to develop Kam Tin into a new town with a population of 100,000. The plot Lam owns is on the outskirts of the area in question.
Lam was understood have exercised her rights under the relevant land policy to expand the plot ratio, meaning she could build four houses measuring a total of 8,000 square feet. A surveyor has estimated that Lam could rake in a profit of more than HK$50 million from her investment.
Several legislative councillors said there was a serious conflict of interest in Lam’s case, and her actions could have violated the Civil Service Code. Lawmaker Tony Tse said officials involved in land development should avoid buying plots in their area of supervision. “Maybe you are clean, but you would draw suspicion from people,” Tse added.
A Lands Department spokesperson confirmed that Lam has declared her purchases in writing to the authority, and was told not to participate in any discussion or decision-making for the area where her plot is located. The spokesperson admitted that the district land office Lam supervises has submitted suggestions regarding the development of Kam Tin.
A Civil Service Bureau spokesperson refused to comment on individual cases but said civil servants must ensure there is no conflict between their official duty and personal interests.
Lam is a D2 grade officer at the Lands Department with a monthly salary of HK$150,000. She supervises the operation of four district land offices, namely North, Sha Tin, Tai Po and Yuen Long, in dealing with land disposal issues, including short-term tenancy, lease modification and land exchange, the report said.
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