Under-fire education chief Michael Suen Ming-yeung made a belated apology yesterday over illegal extensions at his Happy Valley home - as workers finally prepared to tear them down.
Suen emerged from the weekly Legislative Council meeting to say sorry for earlier failing to adequately explain why he did not remove the structures from the ground-floor flat - despite being ordered to do so by the Buildings Department five years ago.
"As you all know, I came out [on Tuesday] to account for the illegal structures at my residence. I feel that I have not said enough, and I have not clearly sent the message of a solemn apology to the public, and to be responsible for my behavior," he said.
Suen, the Secretary for Education, then left and did reply when asked if he will resign.
On Tuesday, Suen said he should have been more attentive in dealing with what he called the "small area" of illegal structural work, but did not apologize for his failure to act on a removal notice served on him by his own staff in April 2006, when he was secretary for housing, planning and lands.
He also said the structural work was already in place when he bought the roomy flat in the low-rise Shuk Yuen Building in 1994.
Despite his apology, calls for him to step down escalated.
Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan doubted if Suen still has the "credibility of a senior official."
Legislator Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said the apology alone is not enough, but whether Suen should resign is up to the chief executive.
Liberal Party lawmaker Miriam Lau Kin-yee said the chief executive should give Suen a warning to appease the public.
Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung said Suen has been taught a lesson.
"For the next step, we'll leave it to the CE," Tam said.
Political commentator James Sung Lap-kung said the apology is the right step.
"But after incidents like the misused accounts of Direct Subsidy Scheme schools, class reductions, and now the illegal extensions at his home, coupled with his old age and health, he should start thinking about resigning."
Suen, 67, recently revealed he undergoes daily dialysis for a kidney problem.
The chief executive "shouldn't keep silent, and should openly explain the follow-up actions to regain the confidence of the public," Sung added.
Several political figures and lawmakers from both pro-establishment and pan-democrat camps have also been accused of having illegal work and additions done around their homes.
A Chief Executive's Office spokeswoman said Suen "has already made a solemn apology, and has already started to demolish." The office reminded officials to check whether they have any illegal structures at home.