Hong Kong's new govt rocked by graft arrest

Hong Kong's anti-corruption watchdog said Thursday it had arrested a minister for allegedly abusing his housing allowances, plunging the new government into scandal.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said it had arrested four people including a minister and a senior civil servant for allegedly violating their government housing allowances.

Public broadcaster RTHK identified the officials as development minister Mak Chai-kwong and Tsang King-man, an assistant highways director. An ICAC spokesman declined to comment when contacted by AFP.

The arrest came shortly after officials said Mak, who only last week took charge of a portfolio overseeing housing matters, had resigned with immediate effect.

The 62-year-old minister has been dogged by allegations that he and Tsang misused public funds for "cross-leasing" flats to each other in the 1980s while they were claiming government housing allowances.

Chinese-language newspaper Apple Daily News cited land registry documents to show they had bought adjacent flats and leased them to each other.

It said Mak had claimed a total of HK$250,000 ($32,250) in civil service tenancy allowances from 1986 to 1988, but the minister has denied any wrongdoing.

"I gave (the civil service bureau) all the facts, and I don't think I breached any regulation," Mak told local radio according to The Standard daily.

"I have followed regulations and I don't think the matter involves my personal integrity," he added.

Mak has not commented publicly on the reasons for his resignation.

The scandal is a blow to newly installed leader Leung Chun-ying, who took power as chief executive on July 1 after promising to restore government integrity in the eyes of an increasingly sceptical public.

"He wants to present a strong reform-minded government, but it has certainly lost its shine," City University political analyst Joseph Cheng said.

"His administration is certainly in a bad situation when so many figures from the chief executive himself to so many members in the governing team have been involved in these scandals and troubles.

"In the eyes of the public, this is the first resignation and won't be the last."

Leung has faced calls for his resignation and a legal challenge to his rule over his failure to declare illegal structures at his home, a sensitive issue in the crowded southern city of seven million people.

Leung's new health and education ministers have also carried out unauthorised improvements to their homes, according to media reports.

Former chief executive Donald Tsang ended his term in disgrace in June after admitting to accepting inappropriate gifts from powerful tycoons in the form of trips on luxury yachts and private jets.

Meanwhile three of the city's richest men, the property developing Kwok brothers, have been arrested on suspicion of corruption in a case also involving a former top bureaucrat in Tsang's government.

Leung said it was "not appropriate" for him to comment on the arrests, when he was swamped by reporters during a visit to a local theme park.

A poll released by the Chinese University of Hong Kong last month showed Leung's popularity rating falling to 51.5, down 4.2 points from a month earlier, with nearly 40 percent of people saying they did not trust the government.

Leung's first day in office was marked by the city's biggest pro-democracy protest in nearly a decade.

The former property consultant was chosen by a 1,200-strong electoral college packed with pro-Beijing elites, but he has promised to usher in full suffrage for the next chief executive vote in 2017.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Senators fail to grill DND, AFP officials on chopper deal officials on
    Senators fail to grill DND, AFP officials on chopper deal officials on

    Senators yesterday failed to grill defense and military officials over the P1.21-billion deal for the purchase of 21 Huey helicopters for the Armed Forces of the Philippines with the joint venture of Rice Aircraft Service Inc. and Eagle Copters Ltd. Francis Escudero and Joseph Victor Ejercito were interested to know why the defense department entered into a deal to buy secondhand helicopters when it is supposed to be modernizing the Armed Forces. “I am looking at the Armed Forces of the …

  • Revilla wants to undergo therapy for aching heels
    Revilla wants to undergo therapy for aching heels

    Detained Sen. Ramon Revilla Jr. has asked the Sandiganbayan to allow him to undergo therapy sessions for two weeks to treat his aching heels and back pains. In a motion filed before the anti-graft court’s First Division on Monday, Revilla’s lawyers said the senator should undergo further medical examination and treatment of his back and feet, including physical therapy at least three times a week or six sessions for two weeks, at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital at Camp …

  • Noul may intensify into typhoon – Pagasa
    Noul may intensify into typhoon – Pagasa

    Tropical Storm Noul was forecast to intensify into a typhoon before it enters the Philippine area of responsibility today, but state weather forecasters said it was unlikely to hit landmass. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Noul, which will be locally named Dodong, is expected to skirt the country’s eastern coast, bringing light to moderate with occasional heavy rains over areas in Central and Northern Luzon this weekend. Rene …

  • US fans sue Manny for hiding injury
    US fans sue Manny for hiding injury

    Two Nevada men filed a class-action lawsuit against Manny Pacquiao on Tuesday, seeking millions in damages because they say he fraudulently concealed a shoulder injury before his defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr. It is just the latest fallout from Mayweather’s victory in Las Vegas on Saturday in a unanimous decision, with Pacquiao saying afterwards that the shoulder complaint hampered his performance in the welterweight world title showdown. The plaintiffs argue that by failing to go public with …

  • Phl expects China to attend APEC summit in November
    Phl expects China to attend APEC summit in November

    The Philippines expects all 21 leaders of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation member-economies, including China, to attend the summit here in November. “This is a multilateral meeting, not a bilateral meeting so there is a big difference between the two... when they come here anyway, APEC does not talk of politics, it’s all economic,” Paynor said. Yesterday at the Kalayaan grounds of Malacañang, the Asian Carmakers Corp. (ACC) held a ceremonial turnover of a fleet of BMW vehicles to be used for …

  • Noy to promote Phl in Canada
    Noy to promote Phl in Canada

    President Aquino left for the United States and Canada yesterday, bearing news of his administration’s accomplishments and hoping to attract more investments and tourists. Aquino noted the US and Canada are home to hundreds of thousands of Filipinos and have been reliable partners of the Philippines for a very long time. The two countries, he said, are participants in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in November to be hosted by the Philippines. He left the Ninoy Aquino …

  • Philippines says notorious bomb-maker killed by rebels

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Filipino bomb-maker who was one of the country's top terror suspects was killed by Muslim rebels who earlier signed a peace deal with the government, the Philippine military said Wednesday. …

  • Philippines, Japan coast guards hold anti-piracy drills
    Philippines, Japan coast guards hold anti-piracy drills

    Philippine and Japanese coast guard teams staged an anti-piracy drill on Wednesday, featuring the storming of a cargo vessel after a mock hijack, in a show of maritime cooperation between the two nations amid rising tension in Asian waters. Both nations face a challenge from China's growing assertiveness over territorial claims in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, where it uses coast guard and fishing vessels to press into disputed areas. Wednesday's drill was the first held by …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options