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Former housing chief faces legal bid to demolish his job with developer

Diana Lee

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

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A controversial government decision to allow a former housing chief to take a top job with one of the city's most powerful property developers is facing a legal challenge.

And last night Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said he was worried about the public reaction to the appointment and ordered officials to give him a full report into how it was handled.

The Democratic Party is backing an elderly man from Cheung Chau who is seeking a judicial review of the decision.

Islander Kwok Cheuk-kin believes it is wrong that former Housing Department director Leung Chin- man be allowed to take up the positions of deputy managing director and executive director of New World Development.

Yesterday, Kwok, 69, went to the Legal Aid Department with Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing- tat to seek legal aid.

He aims to challenge Secretary for the Civil Service Denise Yue Chung-yee, who signed off on the approval.

Leung, 62, retired in January last year and needed government approval before taking up a job within three years of leaving.

Kwok said he believed New World was linked to controversial decisions made by the former director and that he was acting in the public interest.

He said the Legal Aid Department might need two to three months to process the application. He is seeking clarification over whether Leung played any role in the sale of the Hung Hom Peninsula development, which he said was sold to New World for barely half the original asking price.

Lee, a Legislative Council election candidate, is not worried about accusations that the challenge is a campaigning stunt.

"I have been following housing issues for years. Besides, if I were lucky enough to be reelected, I will question Denise Yue on how she approved the application," Lee said.

Leung was housing boss when the government sold the Hunghom Peninsula housing estate to New World for about half the original asking price.

The New World controversy emerged as the property developer announced it planned to demolish the new buildings, Leung said he was unaware of such plan.


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