URA Press Statement
The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) today (Thursday) expresses
deep regret about a twisted report in The Cup Magazine about the
Authority. The said report is factually inaccurate and has made
groundless allegations against URA Chairman Dr Lau Wah-sum,
seriously damaging his reputation. The URA reserves its right for
On the Wan Chai Road/Tai Yuen Street project, the Authority would like to make the following clarifications:
- It takes several years to implement a redevelopment project, and changes to the project itself and the market conditions are possible. This phenomenon is normal in the course of redevelopment. Over the past three years, the URA (and the former Land Development Corporation) and the joint venture partner (The Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd.) have been holding discussions with the Government on the conditions of grant for the Wan Chai Road/Tai Yuen Street project. Negotiations on the land premium for the project are still under way.
- The Chief Executive of the former LDC was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Corporation. Upon the departure of the former Chief Executive Mr Abraham Razack in July 2000, his duties were executed by the Deputy Chief Executives. The Director of Property Division is responsible for negotiations on land grant and land premium matters. As a non-executive Chairman, Dr Lau was only responsible for the policy direction of the Corporation without taking part in the day-to-day operations of LDC. As of January this year, due to the delay in the setting up of the URA and the expiry of the contracts of the two Deputy Chief Executives, the LDC Managing Board empowered the Chairman to temporarily discharge the duties of the Chief Executive.
- Dr Lau first learned of the land premium issue of the Wan Chai Road/Tai Yuen Street project from the Director of Property Division in February this year, less than a month from the deadline of 7 March. Upon knowing this, Dr Lau took decisive steps which included reporting the incident to the LDC Managing Board and commissioning Baker & McKenzie for an internal investigation. The progress of the investigation and the project were reported to the former LDC Managing Board. Therefore, it is totally inaccurate for the Magazine to allege that "the LDC Managing Board was not aware of the issue and was completely left in the dark."
- Also, the Magazine report mentioned that the LDC management signaled the alarm to the Chairman in September last year and in January this year on the land premium and land grant matters of the project. It was absolutely not true. The report said the Chairman was "suspected of negligent of duties and failed to take the matter seriously" had twisted the facts, defamed Dr Lau and misled the public.
- In fact, Dr Lau had taken all necessary steps to protect the interests of the LDC (and URA) on the Wan Chai Road/Tai Yuen Street project. Hence, the headline of the story "Dr Lau Wah-sum was suspected of negligent of duties and the $4 billion deal benefited Mr Joseph Lau" is away from the facts, seriously undermining the reputation of Dr Lau and that of the URA (including LDC).
- The Wan Chai Road/Tai Yuen Street project will be completed in 2007 as scheduled. The URA has made a detailed report to the URA Board on the progress of the investigation and the project.
- The URA is still holding discussions with the joint venture partner on the project's matters, and it would not be appropriate to disclose details, which include sensitive commercial information.
- Again, the Magazine report mentioned an earlier anonymous letter levelling unfair and groundless accusations against Dr Lau. In a statement issued on 23 March 2001, the former LDC refuted the accusations and submitted a report to the Government. The Government had confirmed that the accusations were groundless after investigations. The reporting of these groundless accusations by the Magazine has undermined Dr Lau's reputation.
9 August 2001