As Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah’s “Villa-gate” saga rages, pro-establishment lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun is scheduled to grill the government about the illegal structures found in her house during the Legislative Council’s question-and-answer session on Wednesday.
Tse will ask whether the administration is holding a double standard for government officials and ordinary citizens when it comes to dealing with unauthorized building works found in their properties.
So let’s see which government official, who is definitely going to get raked over the coals by lawmakers from both camps, is going to take Tse’s questions at the Legco meeting tomorrow.
The government says Cheng had been nominated for the position and Beijing had given the green light even at such a short notice. There is even talk that the entire process from Cheng’s nomination to her assumption of office only took weeks.
How exactly hasty was Cheng’s appointment? There are several versions of the story circulating in the pro-establishment camp right now.
One version says Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had been twisting Cheng’s arm about accepting the job offer for months, only to be declined repeatedly by her.
It wasn’t until just a few weeks before Cheng officially took office that she finally changed her mind and accepted the job offer. There is talk that she wouldn’t have agreed to enter the “hot kitchen” had it not been for Beijing’s intense behind-the-scenes lobbying.
Another version says Lam had wanted Cheng for the job even when she was still the chief executive-elect or before she assumed the office in July last year.
However, so the story goes, Beijing had concerns about the implications of changing the secretary for justice, the secretary for transport and housing, as well as the secretary for security all at the same time for the progress of the co-location arrangement at the West Kowloon Station of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.
And given that concern, Beijing preferred to keep Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung in charge of the Department of Justice for six more months.
The problem is, no matter how hasty Cheng’s appointment might have been, there’s still no excuse for her blunder in handling the illegal structures in her properties.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Jan 22
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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