A top government official has made a police report after lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung took documents from him during a panel meeting over the controversial housing programme in Wang Chau, Yuen Long on Tuesday.
At a joint meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Housing and Panel on Development, Leung took a folder placed on a bench by the Under Secretary for Development Eric Ma Siu-cheung. Leung was criticising Ma for not presenting documents relating to a case where a government consultant used restricted government data without authorisation. Leung then passed the folder to lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick so that he could read the confidential documents within. Chu has been closely following the Wang Chau debacle.
Ma reported the case to the police on Thursday “in view of the seriousness of the incident.” A spokesman for the Development Bureau “condemned and expressed deep regret over the behaviour of the two LegCo members.”
Leung told Inmedia that he did not have anything special to say regarding Ma’s decision to report the incident to the police two days after the incident, but he said Ma should ask the police to investigate the use of restricted government data, which was leaked to the media.
“Have you made a police report so they can arrest the person who made the leak? Have you reported the case to the Commercial Crime Bureau?” he asked.
Chu told the news site it was ridiculous for Ma to call the police. He said it was Ma who failed to bring relevant documents to the meeting, but he had made a fuss out of the incident.
He added that the documents given to him by Leung were answers to lawmakers’ questions prepared by officials.
The Tuesday meeting came after lawmakers called for an investigation into cases where consultation firms were apparently using confidential government information to help developers. In the Wang Chau incident, Ove Arup & Partners (Arup), a subsidiary of British engineering firm Arup Group, was caught using restricted government data without authorisation.
Arup was suspended from tendering for three months as punishment for its actions. During the meeting, Ma declined to explain the reasons behind the penalty decision and did not present past records of similar offences. Ma also did not prepare the contract signed with Arup for lawmakers to read. He also refused to disclose records of correspondence with Arup on the grounds that they may involve commercial secrets.
“I am telling you now – ask your subordinates to bring the documents here,” Leung said at the time. “I am asking you – do you not want to give us the documents or did you not bring them here?”
He was subsequently kicked out of the meeting and the documents were retrieved.
The government’s plans to build 13,000 units on a Wang Chau brownfield site occupied by a rural strongman’s car park were postponed after rural leaders opposed the plans in unrecorded informal consultations, whilst a proposal to build 4,000 flats on a nearby greenbelt site occupied by non-indigenous villages was approved.
Those attending the meeting decided that a public hearing will be held over the controversy. A motion was passed urging the government to provide more information within a month.