Donald Tsang

Quit calls as Tsang says sorry again

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 June, 2012, 12:00am


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Head bowed and fighting back tears, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen made his second public apology in three months yesterday, leading to renewed calls for his resignation.

He owned up to 'mishandling' dealings with tycoons and his use of luxury hotel suites during official trips abroad.

The new apology came after separate reports by the Audit Commission and an independent review panel he created to 'rewrite the rule book' for his job.

He said: 'I know my mishandling of the various events has undermined the community's confidence in the integrity of the system and has disappointed my colleagues in the civil service.

'For this I would like to, once again, offer my sincere apologies.'

Tsang went further than in his previous apology in March, when he acknowledged only that he had 'fallen short of public expectations' by accepting lifts on yachts and private jets from tycoons for the price of a standard ticket.

He also agreed a bargain deal to rent a Shenzhen penthouse from a tycoon with business interests in Hong Kong. Tsang's comments prompted further calls for his resignation and criticism for not speaking out immediately after the release of the two reports on Thursday.

In the first report, an independent commission led by former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang said it was 'totally inappropriate' that the chief executive was not covered by rules banning other public officials from accepting advantages.

The second found that Tsang's use of high-class hotel suites on government business, including a US$6,900 presidential suite in the Brazilian capital Brasilia, was not always justified.

Tsang pledged to implement the recommendations of both reports and to work with chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying on implementing changes to the law proposed by Li's committee.

Lee Pang-kwong, a political scientist at Lingnan University, said Tsang had chosen not to try to defend his behaviour this time, in the face of public outrage.

'But [putting forward] no argument doesn't mean he truly believes he is wrong,' he said.

Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan called on Tsang to step down immediately to 'quell public anger'.

And Audrey Eu Yuet-mee of the Civic Party urged Tsang to repay the additional cost of expensive hotel rooms he had stayed in. But Starry Lee Wai-king, of the pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said it would be meaningless for Tsang to resign now.

Tsang is still under investigation by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

And he still faces attempts by pan-democrat lawmakers to bring a first-ever impeachment motion against a chief executive. He will have to face lawmakers at his final question and answer session on June 14.

Constitutional affairs chief Tam Chi-yuen, head of Tsang's office at the time of the Brazil visit, said yesterday that he took full responsibility for the affair, although he had not been directly involved in booking the suite.