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Official insists he played by rules on parents' flat

Friday, July 13, 2012

The constitutional affairs chief said he played by the rules in getting government and bank loans to buy a residential property from his parents.

But Raymond Tam Chi-yuen declined to comment on a media report that he purchased the 700-square-foot flat in Kornhill for HK$3 million in 1993 and sold it for HK$5.77 million in 1997.

A spokeswoman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said Tam had made proper applications and obtained government approval for the loans. Tam, 48, reportedly borrowed HK$550,000 from the government as downpayment under a home financing scheme and a HK$2.45 million mortgage from a bank to purchase the flat in Quarry Bay when he was a civil servant.

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But civil service unions are upset that another minister in the ruling team of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has become implicated in new row.

Development minister Mak Chai-kwong resigned yesterday after the Independent Commission Against Corruption arrested him for allegedly violating the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance in connection with a government housing allowance he received 20 years ago.

Federation of Civil Service Unions chairman Leung Chau- ting has questioned Tam's use of the government loan to buy a property from his parents, saying it is a perception problem even if no rule was breached.

"Although civil servants are allowed to purchase flats from their family members with loans from the government, they should be cautious in doing so because taxpayers' money is involved," Leung said.

However, Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Pan Pey- chyou believes Tam had the right to borrow the downpayment from the government to purchase the property.

So Ping-chi, chairman emeritus of the Hong Kong Senior Government Officers Association, said Tam has not committed any wrongdoing under the home financing scheme that allowed purchases from family members. EDDIE LUK


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