Donald Tsang

Tycoons gave $27m boost to Tsang

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 July, 2005, 12:00am

Business networks used to pump up campaign coffers

Tycoons made full use of their business networks and associates to pump millions of dollars into Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's campaign coffers, according to records disclosed yesterday.

Their enthusiastic support helped raised more than $27 million for Mr Tsang, nearly seven times the $4 million he spent campaigning for his uncontested victory. The response far exceeded the money given to his predecessor, Tung Chee-hwa, who raised $9 million and spent less than $7 million in his re-election in 2002.

Despite Mr Tsang setting a cap of $100,000 for individual donors - to minimise money politics - the amount donated by tycoons together with their families and senior associates added up to much more.

Topping the list was Peter Woo Kwong-ching, chairman of Wharf (Holdings), and his associates. It is estimated that Mr Woo, his family, and business affiliates such as Stephen Ng Tin-hoi and Frankie Yick Chi-ming together donated a total of $1.3 million.

Stanley Ho Hung-sun, a vocal supporter of Mr Tsang, and his family were similarly generous, giving $1 million. Li Ka-shing, his two sons and aides at Cheung Kong (Holdings) and Hutchison donated a combined $960,000.

The list of 2,000-plus contributors also includes smaller donors such as education minister Arthur Li Kwok-cheung and DAB legislator Tsang Yok-sing, who each gave $2,000. Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun, who once considered running against Mr Tsang, gave $10,000. Film director Jackie Chan's production company gave $100,000.

Apparently no democrats contributed. Among the donations of gifts are shoe polish and a brush worth $40, believed to come from 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung.

When asked last night about the huge amount raised, Mr Tsang said he could not possibly turn away his donors: 'When the donations come, you just have to accept it.' He also said there were many donations from ordinary members of the public.

The unspent money has been given to 14 charity groups.

A spokeswoman from Mr Tsang's campaign office said there were no regulations setting an upper limit for donations. She said the campaign office had believed there was no need to stop donations as they were showing support for Mr Tsang and his political platform.

Of $4.12 million Mr Tsang spent on his two-week campaign, $786,500 went towards image-building and publicity materials.

Democratic Party chief Lee Wing-tat said Mr Tsang should be very cautious when dealing with the donors, mainly property developers and business leaders.

'In Chinese custom, one must repay a debt of gratitude,' he said. 'He must be very cautious not to give them any favours in the future.'

Lau Kong-wah, vice-chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said the huge amount of donations reflected wide support for the new chief executive.

He was not worried that the amount given by the tycoons would lead to collusion between them and the government.

'It is an unconditional donation. The money left will all go to charity,' the legislator said.

Chinese University political analyst Ivan Choy Chi-keung said: 'The amount was nothing to the tycoons ... They would not expect any return.'