Penny-stocks minister says 'I'm sorry'

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 2002, 12:00am

The secretary for financial services and the treasury yesterday publicly apologised for the penny-stocks controversy, a day after rejecting calls to say sorry.

Bowing to growing pressure from the public and political parties, Frederick Ma Si-hang appeared outside the government headquarters, took a deep bow and apologised.

His change of heart came after the government's top tier ruled that a public apology was necessary to cool public sentiment after a report into the controversy was released on Tuesday.

However, Mr Ma was asked to repeat his apology after advance notice of his appearance failed to reach most media organisations. He declined repeated demands to do so by angry reporters who arrived too late, with officials explaining that he was not feeling well.

The row was finally defused after the Information Services Department managed to get the only photographer at the scene to share what would otherwise have been an exclusive picture of Mr Ma bowing to the camera.

The apology, the first of its kind since the ministerial system was introduced in July, came shortly after yesterday's raising of the No 8 typhoon signal forced the Legislative Council to postpone its meeting on the report into the penny-stocks row.