Lawmakers hammer Cheng despite Lam defense

Top News | Phoenix Un Jan 12, 2018
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has given Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah her vote of confidence, saying the secretary for justice did not lie in the illegal structure controversy.

Lam even allowed Cheng to finish six arbitration cases - after Cheng joined the government - to the shock of lawmakers.

Lam attended a question-and-answer session at the Legislative Council yesterday as lawmakers continued to challenge Cheng's credibility.

Cheng has insisted that she bought the Villa De Mer house in Tuen Mun "in present condition" in 2008, with most illegal constructions already in place, and that she did not know the structures were unauthorized.

But lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong challenged her claims by presenting a mortgage document. The document stated the house only "comprises a ground floor, a first floor, a second floor and a roof together with the garden and carport," without mentioning any basement.

And that indicated Cheng wanted to camouflage the illegal basement, Chan insisted.

"She could be violating the Theft Ordinance, obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception, as she obtained a mortgage of HK$20 million from the bank," Chan said.

Lam replied she still believed in Cheng, adding: "She had explained that she was too busy and that she [ignored] her private affairs in favor of her public duties. Somebody said it's unimaginable, but if it's the fact, then it's the fact."

Pro-democracy legislators would not let Cheng go so easily, as Roy Kwong Chun-yu said she should be questioned by lawmakers and that she tell the whole truth.

Civic Passion legislator Cheng Chung-tai called for her to step down since " as secretary of justice, she broke the law, harming her integrity, and she camouflaged a lie with another, harming the government's credibility."

Lam later added: "I have permitted her to finish the six arbitration cases she has been handling within a short period of time, and she won't earn anything from the work.

"Instead, she will give the income to me and I will donate it to charity."

That ignited another uproar from the pro-democracy camp.

James To Kun-sun slammed it as "moonlighting, which definitely involved a conflict of interest."

To added: "Her integrity was already in question for the illegal construction, how can she moonlight for work directly related to the field of her public office?"

Cheng was surrounded by reporters asking about the illegal structures when the session ended, but Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po and Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu helped escort her back to the Central Government Offices.

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January 2019