By M. Ulric Killion
Photo Source: Henry Tang, “Why is this man smiling?”, (Cyril Pereira, Hong Kong “Elections”, Asian Sentinel, February 10, 2012).
In Hong Kong, Henry Tang was thought to be a shoo-in for the new chief executive spot, because he was enjoying the backing of Beijing’s Communist Party leaders.
The shoo-in candidate, however, now finds himself embroiled in a scandal that could foretell the ending of his political career.
For Tang, it is a credibility issue, and one serious enough that his story was the dominant news story on Hong Kong’s televised news stations.
It is the story about what many are characterizing as Tang’s underground palace, while others are simply referring to his illegally built “hole in the ground.”
According to James Pomfret (Reuters),
When media reports first surfaced of a basement built under the swimming pool in violation of building regulations, Tang said at the time it was only “a hole in the ground to store things in, that’s all.”
Later, however, newspapers published architectural plans of the subterranean leisure space, measuring some 200 square metres, including a jacuzzi, wine cellars and spacious rooms in what the tabloid Apple Daily called an “underground palace” (James Pomfret, Hong Kong heir apparent's forbidden "palace" poses headache for China, Reuters, February 16, 2012).
A problem for Tang, the outrage of the public notwithstanding, is that many of his allies are now distancing themselves from him.
Despite calls for his resignation from the campaign for chief executive, Tang appears to be waiting for the turmoil to subside, perhaps in the hope of finding a way to salvage both his candidacy and political career.
Additionally, in explanation of the illegal construction at his premises, one senses that he may have even thrown his wife under the bus, because his twist now on the story is that the construction was attributable to his wife’s actions, as Henry Tang now says.
If ever there was poor timing for Tang, it is now, because, as earlier announced, the nomination for the candidates of the fourth term Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region started on February 14, 2012, and will end on February 29 (Chief executive election nomination opens in HK, Xinhua news, February 14, 2012).
Afterwards, and more importantly, once the fourth term chief executive is elected on March 25, the results are then submitted to the Chinese central government for appointment.
In other words, even if Tang can find a way to politically survive at this stage of the selection process, in the end, Beijing will ultimately have the final say on Tang’s actions—they will either approve or disapprove.
Chinese Netizens Speak Out
In response to the news about Henry Tang and his illegal hole in the ground or palace, Chinese netizens did speak out. Their responses, however, were amazingly similar in tone, because the netizens appear not very sympathetic to his plight. The comments from netizens generally condemn his actions.
A sample of these comments, which are from the Hong Kong Internet, follows.
痴膠線的少年: Is Tang dog’s basement directly connected to the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government? It is convenient for him to report to Beijing.
山神: I think the Liaison Office have more unauthorized building works than Tang’s home.
BusterKeaton: (Tang) can welcome them (Officials from the Liaison Office) to have “pool of wine and forests of flesh”.
Hui: New Kowloon Government
Luk: The new headquarter of HKSAR government is in fact located in Kowloon Tong!
炎蝗只酸: If he becomes Cheif Executive, there will be no autonomy. He is basically a mole.
清新開朗: F***! The basement must be larger than 2400 square feet. It is in fact connected to the basement of the Liaison Office!
Henry Tang’s palace or “hole in the ground”
The following photographs, which were earlier posted by Hong Kong Internet, show different views of the “illegal” construction at Henry Tang’s home. These photographs clearly illustrate the depth of the illegal construction, rather than being simply an illegally built “hole in the ground.”
Hong Kong Oriental Daily even revealed photos of Tang’s “underground palace”. Today (Feb 17th), it was disclosed that the swimming pool, with two glass windows in the bottom, is on the top of the wine-tasting room!
Hong Kong Sharp Daily Evening Version Revealed the Floor Plan of Henry Tang’s Secret Palace on Feb 15th 2012
The Boundary of Tang’s Illegal Underground Palace
Floor Plan of Tang’s Secret Basement
“The design of the mansion’s swimming pool is extremely smart. The basement kitchen can be entered through this.”
“Salon Shampoo Bed in the Basement.”
“Thermostated Wine Cellar”
Basement is on the right and ground floor is on the left
“The view of the swimming pool can be enjoyed from the basement wine-tasting room”
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Copyright © Protected – All Rights Reserved M. Ulric Killion, 2012.