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.

  • Philips Gold finally shines

    Philips Gold made 11 service aces on its way to beating Mane ‘N Tail, 25-19, 27-25, 25-16, for its first victory in the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) All-Filipino Coinference Monday night at The Arena in San Juan.Former College of St. Benilde standout Rossan Fajardo had six aces as part of her 10-point output as the Lady Slammers finally barged into the win column after losing their first two matches.Ex-National University star Myla Pablo led Philips Gold with 14 points highlighted by 12 kills, …

  • Turkish Airlines starts direct Manila-Istanbul flights 3 times a week

    Turkish Airlines, Turkey’s flag carrier, launched on March 30 its thrice weekly direct, non-stop flights between Istanbul and Manila at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 and plans to operate a daily service between the two cities, eventually, announced Chief Marketing Officer Ahmet Olmustur. Last November 2014, the Philippines and Turkey signed an expanded air services agreement granting Turkish carriers three frequencies per week to Manila and Clark. In accordance with …

  • Azkals bow to Bahrain

    The Philippine Azkals fell short in their bid to salvage a draw and fell 2-1 to Bahrain Monday night in an international friendly match at the Bahrain National Stadium in Manama. Faouzi Mubarak struck the opening goal for the home side in the 29th minute before Abdulla Yaser doubled the lead two minutes later with a booming shot from 25 yards out. Fil-German midfielder Manny Ott gave the Azkals a ray of hope when he scored from just outside the box in the 61st. National team Coach Thomas …

  • Alcalas dominate rivals

    In a brilliant show of power and speed, Mark Alcala downed fierce rival and Philippine team member Ross Leonard Pedroza, 21-16, 23-21, to win the men’s singles open title. Alcala lost her No. 1 ranking after focusing on her studies at the University of the Philippines, but she’s willing to sacrifice once again in order to represent the country in future international tournaments. …

  • Girl, grandma hurt in land mine blast

    A 12-year-old girl, who was on her way to her graduation, was wounded together with her grandmother after they were hit by a landmine blast planted near their family’s residence at Sitio Totoy, Barangay San Jose, Monkayo town, Compostela Valley (ComVal) province. Lt. Vergel U. Lacambra, chief of the Public Affairs Office (PAO) of the Army’s 10th Infantry (Agila) Division (10th ID), reported that Marcelyn Domicillo and her 58-year-old grandmother Rosallia Andaya were taken to a hospital in …

  • Army paddlers outlast Navy

    Army began where it left off the previous year, turning back arch rival Navy to rule the men’s 300-meter standard race in the opening leg of the 2015 Cobra Energy Drink-PDBF Dragon Boat Regatta held over the weekend at the Manila Bay.Overall champions the past season, the Army paddlers made their move in the last 100 meters to emerge clear winners in one minute and 7.67 seconds of the event sponsored by the country’s leading energy drink, Cobra, and organized by the Philippine Dragon Boat …

  • Awareness: April Fool’s Day

    On April 1, be wary of people who may borrow money or play practical jokes on you. It’s April Fool’s Day! While believed to be of Western origin, April Fool’s Day is observed in many countries of the world, including the Philippines. April Fool’s Day is that day of the year when people take the opportunity to fool around a bit by playing practical jokes on the gullible. …

  • All-out peace, says PNoy

    President Aquino reiterates that the best option for the government is all-out peace, not all-out war. *** Likewise, the Philippine National Police (PNP) calls for a peaceful and orderly observance of the Holy Week nationwide, as hundreds of thousands of people go on an exodus to major tourist spots and the provinces. A blessed Holy Week! *** The President dismisses calls for an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) for the Masasapano tragedy and instead will …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options