New underground music venue or justice secretary’s band room?

The fallout over the illegal structures in the home of Hong Kong Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng and her husband (and neighbor) Otto Poon continues, and it is hard to know where to begin.

For starters: she’s got a kitted-out band room, decked out with a drum kit, guitars, and stuffed animals.

What stuffed animals you ask?

Well a tiger, obviously, as well as a fairly sizeable Winnie the Pooh, a rather controversial choice, given that the pants-less bear was blocked by mainland censors after netizens picked up on a certain resemblance between the children’s character and the Chinese president.

But back to the illegal structures, which include basement rooms at Cheng and Poon’s adjacent homes in Tun Muen.

Photographs of the rooms’ interiors, published by Apply Daily yesterday, have unsurprisingly caused a stir online.

Not only does Cheng have multiple properties in a city where most people can barely afford to buy a flat, she’s also decked out her basement with a 100 square foot Japanese-style tatami room complete with a Miffy plush toy sitting in the corner.

Her husband, meanwhile, has a 100-square-foot subterranean home cinema room, and a 50-square-foot wine cellar that can store 200 bottles of wine.

We don’t know if Cheng actually plays any instruments — we quite like the idea of her shredding a guitar during open mic night at The Wanch —  but the revelation of these rooms has prompted some to call bulls*** on Cheng’s claims that she was “too busy” to check if her home had illegal structures.

One netizen remarked “she’s so busy but she has time to watch a movie, play some music, and drink some red wine,” while another said “there are so many things to play in here, why not rent it out as a party room?”

Others, still upset about the closure of underground indie venue Hidden Agenda, which was shuttered after tangling with authorities, leapt at the chance to point out a little bit of hypocrisy.

Why, they asked, does a justice secretary with, essentially, her own illegal underground music venue get to serve in the government, while one of the city’s longest-running live establishments gets shut down for license breaches?

Some suggested that maybe Cheng’s home should be converted into a place for live bands to perform. A possible name for it has already been suggested:

The scandal engulfing Cheng began earlier this year.  Almost immediately as she took on the role the justice chief job, it emerged that her house, and that of her husband, had at least nine unauthorized extensions including rooms on the roof, extensions on the ground floor, basements, canopies, and a swimming pool.

The revelations were embarrassing not just for the government, but  particularly for Cheng, who has degrees in engineering and law, and even co-authored a book on construction law that you can borrow from your local library.

On Sunday, the government cheekily published a press release at 11pm confirming Cheng had illegal structures in at least one other property after dropping hints about it during a radio show earlier that day.

It referred to a HK$62 million (US$8 million) luxury flat Cheng bought in Repulse Bay that had illegal structures.

Cheng reportedly purchased it as a first-time buyer… despite owning companies that bought at least three other properties in Tuen Mun and Sha Tin.

Cheng’s neighbors have now been dragged into the scandal, with authorities scrutinizing their homes for unapproved extensions, the SCMP reported.

According to RTHK, the embattled justice chief will appear before a special Legco meeting on Feb. 26 to explain the illegal structures in her home.

The SCMP reported today the pro-establishment camp were losing patience with Cheng’s handling of the affair.

Perhaps the Winnie the Pooh toy was the last straw.

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