Following is a question by the Hon Lam Cheuk-ting and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Michael Wong, in the Legislative Council today (January 31):
It was reported in the press in August 2016 that a government officer, being a Senior Land Executive (SLE) of the Lands Department (LandsD) at the relevant time, had bought an entire block of small house from an indigenous villager in 2014. As the father of the said SLE (i) had worked as a SLE in LandsD before his retirement, (ii) sold, upon his retirement and before the aforesaid small house was constructed, the land on which the small house was situated to the said indigenous villager and (iii) had signed on the seller's behalf the sale and purchase agreement in respect of the aforesaid property transaction, coupled with the fact that the transaction price of the property was unreasonably low, suspicion had arisen that the said small house was actually a property developed upon the acquisition of small house concessionary rights. In response to subsequent media enquiries, LandsD stated that any case suspected of involving acts of misconduct or deception in the applications for small houses, regardless of the identities and backgrounds of the parties concerned, would be referred to the law enforcement agencies for investigation as necessary, and it would offer cooperation in the investigation. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council, since the publication of the aforesaid press report, whether:
(1) LandsD has referred the aforesaid case to law enforcement agencies to investigate if anyone has committed any unlawful acts; if so, of the details of the referral and the outcome of the investigations; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) the Civil Service Bureau has initiated a disciplinary hearing against the SLE who bought the small house; if so, of the details and outcome; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) LandsD has arranged transfer of the SLE who bought the small house to a position whose duties are unrelated to the vetting and approval of small house applications; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
My reply to Hon Lam Cheuk-ting's question is as follows:
(1) The Lands Department (LandsD) will take appropriate follow-up action on any suspected case of contravention of law or the Civil Service Code. If necessary, the department will make the required referral based on the circumstances of the case and cooperate with the relevant law enforcement agencies for conducting criminal investigation. In fact, if an individual government officer is prosecuted for criminal offence, the prosecution will be openly conducted according to the system.
(2) In general, the LandsD will not make any public comment on the referral and follow-up investigation of individual disciplinary cases.
(3) The LandsD is committed to avoiding conflicts of interest in posting its staff. The current work of the officer mentioned in the press report referred to in the question is not related to the vetting and approval of small house applications.
Ends/Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Issued at HKT 15:00