Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Cracks are Showing

One of the villages in Wang Chau fearing eviction for housing development
Incoming lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick has definitely opened a can of worms and senior government officials are squirming in their seats.

He claimed there was a "government-business-landlord-triad collusion" behind the scaling down of a public housing project in Wang Chau, Yuen Long in the New Territories.

Chu alleged the government had originally planned 17,000 flats to be built on the site, but it was reduced to a paltry 4,000 flats because of opposition from powerful rural leaders.

Leung claims he didn't make deals with rural leaders
These 4,000 flats are planned to be built on a site where there are three existing villages, instead of on a brownfield site that could yield 13,000 flats, but is controlled by rural leaders.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying denies bowing to pressure from these rural strongmen, saying this was only the first phase...

But even more interesting is how Leung and Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah have made different responses to the issue.

Leung said that while he chaired a task force on Wang Chau in 2013, he claimed Tsang was involved in the deliberations as part of the task force that also included Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

However, Tsang's office told the media that while he was part of the task force, he did not attend the one and only meeting.

And even Cheng distanced herself from the issue, saying she was not a member of the task force or steering committee.

John Tsang denies being involved in any task force
As Tsang and Leung seem to be vying for the top job next year, Leung appears to be trying to drag down his opponent by trying to lump the responsibility of the Wang Chau issue on him.

Regardless, Chu isn't impressed by the responses from the government so far.

"Their statements are only confusing the picture," he said. "The public want to hear one full account from the government, not 10 different stories."

Indeed.

Being unable to get a straight answer proves the government is trying to hide something, and it's possibly that it may have colluded with rural forces. It's not a new story, but it confirms that something is up.

The tensions between Tsang and Leung in the days and weeks to come could reveal even more than they want us to know.

In the meantime, we should praise Chu for shining a spotlight on this issue -- and he hasn't even been sworn in yet.

Surely those who voted him in are already pleased they chose the right guy for the job...

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