Tung is back but new-look Betty steals the show

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 April, 2005, 12:00am

A new-look former first couple made a return to the public eye yesterday, with Tung Chee-hwa said to have shed 6kg and wife Betty Tung Chiu Hung-ping also looking slimmer and sporting a new hairstyle.

Mrs Tung was as talkative as ever, making clear she is not about to put her feet up. But her husband wasn't answering any questions - apart from dropping a broad hint that he is happy.

The pair attended a dinner last night with Mr Tung's former executive councillors, while earlier in the day Mrs Tung was at a public forum held by environmental group Green Fun, which she founded.

Mr Tung just smiled and waved to reporters, ignoring questions, as the pair arrived for the dinner at the Island Shangri-La in Admiralty. As they left later, however, he responded to a question as to whether he was happy with an affirmative nod.

Former close aide Leung Chun-ying, who arranged the dinner, said his old boss had lost 6kg because he now had more time to exercise.

Mr Tung was showing no sign of the ill-health said to have forced his resignation last month. Asked at the earlier function about her husband's health, Mrs Tung said he was very well.

She stressed 'Hong Kong is our home', when asked whether they would spend their time in the city or in Mr Tung's birthplace, Shanghai.

With a shorter, sleeker hairstyle replacing the bouffant waves that formerly framed her face, and appropriately clad in a green jacket, she declared: 'I'm very busy. I still have many things to do.'

Then, sounding almost as though she was still first lady, she borrowed a phrase from Mr Tung's last policy address, telling the environmentalists: 'We always say we have to try to think what people think, but what we want to achieve more is to actually think what they think.'

Mrs Tung had changed to colourful Thai-style attire when she and her husband arrived for the dinner with former and current executive councillors.

Mr Tung, in a black suit with a blue tie, was making his first public appearance since he returned from a visit to Shanghai at Easter after his resignation.

The dinner was attended by six unofficial Exco members, all of whom are now on acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's cabinet. Henry Tang Ying-yen, an unofficial Exco member before being appointed as financial secretary, also attended.

Mr Tung was presented with a silver plate inscribed with the words 'First and second term of chief executive' and 'Vice-chairman, Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference', his new position.