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February 19th, 2012:

Time for a spring clean

Philip Bowring says the integrity of the next chief executive needs to be beyond doubt, given the current scandals and not-so-subtle political games being perpetrated by a clique of insiders

Feb 19, 2012

Would you buy a used car from this man?” The barbed slogan used in the 1972 campaign against the re-election of US president Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon seemed all too exact two years later with his resignation as a result of the Watergate scandal, a tale of illegal activities and cover-ups.

It is a reminder of the importance of trust in politics. The public recognises that politics is often a contest of half-truths and personal ambitions but it can also usually draw a distinction between political gamesmanship, competence and issues of personal integrity. Thus, Tung Chee-hwa’s political position became untenable because of his apparent lack of competence in handling the economy, the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome and Basic Law Article 23. But these never touched his integrity or undermined the public’s generally positive view of him as a person.

Even before the latest revelations about his illegal underground palace, Henry Tang Ying-yen’s trust deficit had reached such proportions that it is hard to see how a public which already favoured his opponent by a large margin would welcome his selection, let alone how it would respond were Hong Kong to face the crises such as those that confronted Tung.

Recent events have given the impression of the wider malaise that the public knows exists: the gap between the tycoons and their allies in the bureaucracy, and the increasingly un-silent majority. The former are accustomed to getting away with exceptional treatment, whether it relates to minor infractions such as parking offences or large-scale ones such as the failure to enforce land laws. They make observers wonder whose interests were being served when, for example, against a barrage of informed advice, the government pushed through such things as a multibillion-dollar incinerator using out-of-date technology. What is in the basement of such projects?

Tang is seen to represent not just inherited wealth but a sense of invulnerability. Thus, his most prominent backer is banker and legislative councillor David Li Kwok-po, the man who had to resign from the Executive Council after paying US$8million to settle US Securities and Exchange Commission allegations of insider trading in shares of Dow Jones & Co, of which he was a director. It was no minor matter that Hong Kong’s best-known banker and head of its largest locally owned bank appeared not to appreciate the standards expected of directors of major international companies.

Tang may well have played no part in the none-too-veiled attempt to smear Leung Chun-ying with allegations of not revealing a possible conflict of interest in the West Kowloon design competition. But it is clear that his allies in the bureaucracy, which he headed until very recently, had no qualms about using the machinery of government on his behalf. Again, it shows the way in which an insider clique abuses its position to undermine the selection process and hence the modest amount of democracy involved. It appears that, having expected Tang to be a shoo-in, the insiders panicked at Leung’s persistent big lead in opinion polls, which was raising worries among pro-Beijing groups.

Tang’s attempt to blame his wife for the basement made millions cringe. But it would have come as little surprise to those who recall his role in the HarbourFest fiasco in 2003. Blame for this was dumped on Mike Rowse, the head of InvestHK, which had rather incongruously been given a vague supervisory role in a project promoted by a government committee headed by the financial secretary (first Antony Leung Kam-chung, then Tang), run by the American Chamber of Commerce and sponsored with public money. The rough-hewn outsider Rowse was publicly castigated and fined HK$156,000 under civil service disciplinary proceedings. He took the government to court and won in a case which revealed a tawdry litany of blame-passing by his superiors. He was in effect stitched up by a ministerial clique, including Tang.

Of course, trust, once lost, can be redeemed, but that takes a long time, and evidence that a person’s qualities outweigh the flaws. So, do we trust Leung more than Tang? The evidence against Leung in the West Kowloon case is so far very vague and will remain that way unless and until the government releases all the documents. In any event, it was a decade ago and did not involve any actual expenditure. If that is the worst that can be dredged up against him, there is scant reason to worry about integrity.

The bigger problem with Leung is that no one knows what he stands for. Tang, or a replacement from the business-related group, is the devil we know. Leung is earnest, articulate and had a successful, self-made career in the private sector. His election manifesto says most of the right things in general terms – the need to address pollution, waste, housing, population issues and the like. It is not difficult to seem to be an agent of change given the immobility of the government over the past five years. But what they would mean in practice is less clear.

With or without Tang’s scandals, opinion polls indicate that people want change, new faces and less collusion. A new broom is needed to sweep away not just a discredited Tang but the attitudes that he and his allies represent. This is proving a cathartic experience, and a Hong Kong spring may be at hand.

Philip Bowring is a Hong Kong-based journalist and commentator

so Henry, tell us who drew this ? where is the Integrity room or is that the toilet ? never mind, blame the wife. Who signed the cheques ? Who was the architect and AP ? Who built it and when ?

so Henry, tell us who drew this plan of 7 York Rd ? where is the Integrity room or is that the toilet ? never mind, blame the wife. Who signed the cheques for the house construction and architect  ? Who was the architect and AP ? Which builder built it and when ? It seems the basement was there from day 1 contrary to what you are saying.

The China Liaison office is opposite – how many of those persons have you entertained there ? Did they buy the house for you ?

Who is your wine supplier and what was their delivery address ? Who signed for it ?

Do you think because you were born rich the rest of us are stupid ?

When will you stop lying, it is embarrassing ! You are not good at it.

“Hong Kong Chief Executive Candidate Henry Tang is Not a Man” | Dictionary of Politically Incorrect Hong Kong Cantonese

Clear the Air says:

This is an example of how Principal Government officials in Hong Kong believe they are beyond the law and can ignore the public.

This is why our air is so poor.

This why the poor remain poorer.

This is why the tycoons get richer at our expense and health and mainlanders buy our homes which we cannot afford.

How many more skeletons are in the closet, or is that hidden too ? and Henry Tang ‘JP’ thinks he will still get elected as CE ?

Will be difficult from a jail cell. If it transpires and ignores public opinion we can expect 1 million+ people to take to the streets.

“Hong Kong Chief Executive Candidate Henry Tang is Not a Man”

Posted on February 17, 2012

First of all, watch Henry Tang’s “man’s shoulders” speech and his apology.
The headline of today Oriental Daily,

(Henry Tang) Made His Wife a Scapegoat

Lied About Unauthorised Building Works Repeatedly
Consciously Went Against the Rules and Defend Himself Furiously
No Shoulder No Backbone
Refuses to Withdraw from Election

Chief Executive candidate Henry Tang is not a man! Buildings department investigated Tang’s mansion in Kowloon Tong for four hours and validated pictures of his 2400 square feet “underground palace” revealed by us. Tang lied repeatedly and bankrupted his credibility. Seeing that he has no way out, he abandons his “a man must shoulder blame and responsibility” principle and passes all the responsibility and crime of unauthorised construction and repeated lies to his wife Kwok Yu-chin, who gave apology in tears to protect him. Together with his previous infidelity and love child scandals, netizen condemn the shamelessness of Tang for making his wife a scapegoat. The storm of “anti Tang” is being started.

The headline of Apple Daily,

Betraying (his) Wife for Glory

Henry Tang Refuses to Withdraw

The scandal does not end in here. VJMEDIA released a picture of the suspected Tang’s mansion in its building state.

An informer revealed this secret photo to us. This informer disclosed that it was taken when Tang’s mansion was being built. It shows that the foundation is very deep, which does not in scale with the original approved floor plan. It was also claimed that the size of the unauthorised building work is two times larger than 2400 square feet.

Therefore, this photo contradicts with Tang’s statement that the illegal basement was constructed in 2007.

LATEST UPDATE (Feb 17th 5:05 pm) from Apple Daily

Tang’s family sent the foundation plan of 7 York Road to Buildings Department through a construction company in August 2003 and it shows the foundation was only 3 to 4 meters deep. However, one month later, they revoked the plan and got related records back so that they could increase the depth to 5 meters.

Secondary school students taking pictures of Tang’s 7 York Road home

Netizen Reactions

Cartoonist草日漫畫’s work,

A big scientific discovery! Siu Ming found an invertebrate with no shoulder and backbone in a burrow. Can someone tell Siu Ming its scientific name?

Cartoonist Cuson Lo‘s work,

Comments from an anti-Tang Facebook group