From the China Compliance Digest (Issue No. 22: July 2, 2012):
On 1 July, China's president Hu Jintao presided in person over the swearing-in of new Hong Kong chief executive Leung Chun-ying, as pro-democracy protesters gathered to voice dissent about a host of issues.
Perhaps numbering in the hundreds of thousands, the protesters threatened to dampen enthusiasm surrounding the 15th anniversary of China's takeover of the semiautonomous territory.
Leung takes office under a cloud, as reports surfaced over the past week of six illegal structures connected to his lavish home in the upscale Victoria Peak enclave. A similar scandal involving election opponent Henry Tang, in which an illegal basement extension was discovered in Tang's home, is thought to have helped secure Leung's victory.
Some Hong Kongers believe Leung harbors deep, secret ties to Beijing, a theory that may draw force from the fact that his inaugural speech was delivered in Mandarin rather than the local dialect Cantonese.
Hong Kong activist groups and media personnel have sharply criticized improper business relationships between government officials and business tycoons. On 28 June, Chinese Estates Holding announced its chairman Joseph Lau Luen-hung would stand trial in Macau on 17 September for bribery and money laundering.
Lau is charged with involvement in paying a Macau official to smooth over the sale of five plots of highly valuable land. The government of the administrative region has stated it may take back the land, prompting a halt of sales and development on La Scala, Chinese Estates' partially built luxury residential project on the property.
Sources: AsiaOne, The Wall Street Journal, Agencies
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