Give Tsang a break, says Carrie Lam
Amy Nip and Thomas Chan
Two public figures tipped to serve in the next government stood up for beleaguered Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday and said he should serve out the remaining four weeks of his term.
Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and executive councillor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung spoke out after Tsang issued his second apology over luxurious official trips and favours from tycoon friends.
Lam, who is expected to be chief secretary in Leung Chun-ying's government, called for acceptance and tolerance over Tsang's situation.
'I respect Tsang very much and thank him for giving me so many opportunities through the years,' she told a Commercial Radio programme. 'I hope the public will show tolerance towards him. He apologised again yesterday, so we should close the matter. If we want to see a flawless transition in the next four weeks, the chief executive must be there to oversee everything.'
Cheung, who is rumoured to be the next housing minister, echoed Lam's comments. Tsang might have made judgments that fell short of optimal standards but procedural flaws also had a role to play, he said.
Veteran Beijing loyalist Ng Hong-mun said it would be meaningless for Tsang to quit unless his term had more than a year to go.
Tsang ran up a bill of about HK$12 million on 55 trips between the start of his second term in July 2007 and April this year, including a US$6,900 bill for a night in a hotel suite in the Brazilian capital. In March he admitted accepting lifts on yachts and private jets for the price of a standard ticket. He also clinched a bargain lease on a post-retirement Shenzhen penthouse from a tycoon with business interests in Hong Kong.
On Thursday, an independent commission led by former chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang said in a report that it was 'totally inappropriate' for the city's top man not to be covered by rules banning public officials from accepting advantages. The Audit Commission issued a separate report saying Tsang's use of high-class hotel suites during business trips was not always justified.
A day later, Tsang issued his second public apology in three months. He admitted that his dealings with tycoons and use of extravagant hotel suites had caused disappointment and undermined public confidence.
Pan-democrats renewed their calls for him to step down, while the online community was abuzz about Tsang's contrite expression and bowed head during his two-minute statement on Friday.
Meanwhile Lam, who has not confirmed she will serve in the new government, said having no time for her family pricked her conscience. But it had not become a family issue as her two sons were grown up.