Date
26 July 2017
URA managing director Daniel Lam Chun said the proposed sales arrangement for De Novo was intended for internal discussion, but it was exposed to the public and the issue was quickly politicized. Photo: HKEJ
URA managing director Daniel Lam Chun said the proposed sales arrangement for De Novo was intended for internal discussion, but it was exposed to the public and the issue was quickly politicized. Photo: HKEJ

URA managing director under fire over De Novo sales plan

Urban Renewal Authority managing director Daniel Lam Chun came under fire after he labeled as “political pollution” the recent controversy surrounding the sales arrangements for URA’s subsidized residential project at the former Kai Tak airport.

Lam made the reference in an open email to members of the URA board, in which he compared the De Novo case to the political controversies surrounding the former Kowloon-Canton Railway and the University of Hong Kong Council, Ming Pao Daily reported on Thursday.

The URA confirmed that Lam had sent out such an email, but added that it was sent in Lam’s personal capacity and his views do not represent those of the URA.

It said it will not comment on the content of the email.

The URA told members of its board in a meeting last Tuesday that it was prepared to allow individual applicants to purchase De Novo flats as long as their assets do not exceed HK$3 million and a monthly income not exceeding HK$60,000, the same set of requirements for household applicants.

Four legislators, who are also non-executive directors of URA, assailed the new arrangement, saying they violate the principle behind subsidized housing, which is to allow low-income families acquire a home of their own.

They have since written to the URA requesting a special meeting to discuss the matter in greater detail.

The URA said in a meeting on Tuesday that the limits on assets and monthly income for individual applicants will be lowered to HK$1.5 million and HK$33,500, respectively.

Lam’s email was sent out on Monday, a day before the URA meeting to announce the downward adjustments.

Lam said the sales arrangements were originally intended for internal discussion, but it was exposed to the public and the issue was quickly politicized.

Lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang confirmed that he has received an email from Lam.

Kwok described Lam’s viewpoint as “highly inappropriate”, adding that he has the right to call for a special meeting as a non-executive director.

Kwok insisted that changing the application requirements for subsidized housing units are important issues that must be discussed and approved by the URA board in a formal meeting.

Fellow legislator Wu Chi-wai said he could not accept Lam’s point of view as it is the duty of lawmakers to ensure that the URA’s decisions comply with public interest.

Legislator Ann Chiang, who also sits on the URA board, said the incident should not be compared with that of the HKU Council and she hoped Lam could “become wiser after learning a lesson”.

– Contact us at english@hkej.com

EL/AC/CG

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