Patten dodges the rain to take tea and tarts with Tsang

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 25 July, 2006, 12:00am

Former governor Lord Patten, in Hong Kong for a book-promotion tour, brought some typical English weather with him as he returned to Government House for tea with Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen yesterday.

It was still pouring when Lord Patten was driven away from Government House in a limousine some time later, perhaps reminding him of when he and his family sailed out of Victoria Harbour during a downpour in July 1997 after the former British colony was handed back to China.

But the sudden change of weather apparently did not stop Mr Tsang from showing his honoured guest his prized pet koi - housed in new fish ponds he installed after moving into the colonial mansion last year.

'Don't look down on our hospitality. We have umbrellas,' one official said. 'And what's more, Lord Patten has been served egg tarts for tea.'

However, he seems to have forgotten the decree by his wife Lavender that he go on a diet and steer clear of his favourite snack.

And while he ate, drank and admired the chief executive's fish, politically sensitive and potentially embarrassing topics such as universal suffrage, Anson Chan Fang On-sang and the sales tax were not on the agenda.

'Lord Patten and the chief executive had a bit of a catch-up on old times,' a spokeswoman for Mr Tsang said, adding that 'world affairs' such as the Doha round of World Trade Organisation talks were discussed.

Earlier in the day during a meeting with children in the British Council, Lord Patten was asked what it took to make a good politician. 'You have to try to tell the truth,' he replied.

He found it difficult to answer several questions posed by the youngsters. 'Why are you called Fat Pang?' asked a young girl.

'Can you give me GBP100 million?' asked another.

But he had no problem providing a straight answer when on his favourite snack. Asked if he liked egg tarts, he replied: 'I like egg tarts because they are yummy.'