Minister's two apologies in a week fail to satisfy lawmakers

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 September, 2002, 12:00am

Frederick Ma Si-hang yesterday offered another apology, this time for the way he apologised over the penny-stocks affair last week.

Having been criticised for his below-par performance before lawmakers the last time he was tackled over the penny-stocks fiasco, Mr Ma was apparently more careful to stick to official lines at yesterday's special meeting.

The secretary for financial services and the treasury, who had been roundly criticised for 'selectively' inviting reporters to cover his first apology when typhoon signal No 8 was raised last Wednesday, admitted the arrangement had been 'very inappropriate'. This time, without a bow, he said: 'I say sorry to the media and will make sure we will be more careful in future.'

But his courage in making two public apologies in less than a week apparently did not impress Emily Lau Wai-hing, of The Frontier. In an ironic tone, the legislator asked if Mr Ma, who was said to have fallen sick immediately after his apology last week, had fully recovered. 'We understand that the secretary has been under enormous pressure. I hope you take good care of yourself,' she said.

Democrat Cheung Man-kwong questioned if Mr Ma had abided by the code of conduct in telling the whole truth about whether he knew about the de-listing proposal in advance. Mr Ma repeated he knew only some documents had subsequently reached his office.

'I might not have explained clearly enough. We are talking about three different documents and the timing [of when they arrived] is also different. Therefore it might lead to confusion and I'm sorry for that,' he said. Democratic Party chairman Martin Lee Chu-ming praised Mr Ma's apology as 'a step forward'. adding: 'From the very beginning, I think the incident only warranted a yellow card, not a red one.'


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