After many months of controversy, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Friday issued a 30-page document explaining the illegal structures at his houses on The Peak, admitting mistakes but insisting his integrity was intact.
“I admit that I was not careful enough in handling the incident. But I have all along been honest and open, and co-operative with the government and the media, and taken rectifying action as quickly as possible,” his statement said.
Leung released a 14-page statement, plus a 16-page appendix of supporting documents. His statement acknowledged building two unauthorised structures at his two luxury houses in Peel Rise after he and his family moved in.
The first structure was a wooden trellis located at House No 4, and the other was a glass enclosure with metal support at House No 5. There are five houses at the 4 Peel Rise address.
Those two unauthorised structures were among six exposed by the media in June, and the trellis and glass enclosure were soon removed.
At that time, Leung explained that the glass enclosure was a replacement for an old trellis that had been installed by the previous owner.
But that explanation was soon called into question. Ming Pao Daily published aerial photos of the houses taken by the Lands Department before Leung moved in, revealing no trellises.
“Now a land surveyor’s report has confirmed that I remembered it incorrectly at that time,” Leung said in the statement. “I mixed House 4 up with House 5 at that time.” He insisted he had not purposefully tried to mislead Hongkongers.
He released the statement after the Court of Final Appeal rejected a legal challenge by election rival Albert Ho Chun-yun, which claimed Leung had not been legally elected chief executive in March because of his false statements about the illegal structures.
The chief executive admitted in Friday’s statement that he had been negligent in failing to notice the illegal structures at an early stage. He had no intention of concealing anything, he said.
”Looking back, I did not make myself clear on some occasions, leading to misunderstanding by the public,” he said.
On other unauthorised structures – a basement, a metal gate, a parking place covering and a small storage structure – Leung said they were installed by the house’s previous owner.
He said he had already dismantled the parking place cover and the single-storey structure. Works to fill the basement and dismantle the metal gate were now awaiting approval from buildings departments.
The statement, which is in Chinese only, is available the website of the Chief Executive’s Office.