Thursday, 1 February 2018

Defending the Indefensible

The scandal over the illegal structures at Cheng's homes continues to dog her
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor continues to back her embattled Secretary for Justice Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah. This time Lam claimed, speaking from experience, that it was possible to be "too neglectful, too busy and too devoted to public service to forget [one's] own private business".

Lam has been known to be so busy that she doesn't even know where to buy toilet paper late in the evening, but Cheng was not a civil servant before she bought three properties which have illegal structures in them.

How much longer can Carrie Lam defend Cheng?
Surely she would have known -- particularly the one she bought late last year -- and she would have known that she would need to deal with the problem as soon as possible, or at least give the appearance that she was hiring contractors to take down the illegal structures.

But no, Cheng was quiet about it and even survived two no-confidence motions on Monday thanks to support from pro-establishment lawmakers.

When Lam was answering questions in the Legislative Council, Lam was asked by People Power lawmaker Raymond Chan Chi-chuen if she believed Cheng lied to the bank about getting a mortgage without telling the financial institution about the illegal basement.

The chief executive replied she had no idea how to answer that as she had never bought a flat locally before. She has always lived in government housing, though her husband bought a flat in Zhongshan, Guangdong province.

Teresa Cheng's home (left) in Tuen Mun with illegal structures
It's mind boggling to find out that Lam, a career civil servant, doesn't own any property in Hong Kong. Which is why in some crazy way, she doesn't understand why lawmakers and many of the public are up in arms about Cheng being the justice secretary when she doesn't even follow the law with her own properties.

The most egregious offense is Cheng buying a flat last year and claiming she is a first-time homeowner when she has two other flats though bought through companies. But she was taking advantage of a loophole that we hope the government will close very soon.

Nevertheless, it is getting harder for Lam to defend the indefensible. There are so many calls for Cheng to step down but Lam and Cheng seem deaf to the growing chants...

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