By Kevin Drew, Feb 29, 2012 —
HONG KONG — The head of the Hong Kong government is under investigation by a local ethics board, a local political party official said Wednesday, and is facing a possible impeachment effort by lawmakers, the latest high-profile political scandal to hit the semiautonomous Chinese territory this year.
Chief Executive Donald Tsang is the subject of an investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption, said Avery Ng, vice chairman of the League of Social Democrats. Mr. Ng, who filed a complaint against Mr. Tsang last weekend, said he received notification Tuesday from the commission that the inquiry was under way. The commission’s guidelines bar it from publicly acknowledging an investigation.
Local news media have reported that Mr. Tsang accepted trips on private jets and a yacht to Macao. During the trip to Macao, a major international gambling center, Mr. Tsang was photographed dining in a room reportedly full of business leaders. Local media have also said that Mr. Tsang was discussing the below-market lease of a penthouse in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, a place he reportedly was considering as a retirement home. The apartment was offered by a mainland Chinese tycoon who owns a number of companies in Hong Kong. The reports have fueled concern that the top level of government has fallen prey to payoffs or inappropriate influence by the business elite. . . .
On Thursday Mr. Tsang will appear before the territory’s Legislature to answer questions about the trips and penthouse agreement. A Hong Kong lawmaker, Paul Tse, is also expected to push for impeachment proceedings against Mr. Tsang on charges of conflict of interest, a move widely expected to fail.
The allegations against Mr. Tsang follow earlier accusations against the two candidates regarded as front-runners to succeed Mr. Tsang as chief executive on March 25. One, Henry Tang, has admitted to building a vast, unlicensed basement that reportedly was to contain a wine cellar, a movie theater and a Japanese-style bath. Mr. Tang insists the space was for storage. His chief rival, C.Y. Leung, also faces conflict-of-interest accusations. . . .