Donald Tsang

Wikipedia edits spruce up Tsang's image

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 August, 2007, 12:00am

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and two government departments have been caught up in the embarrassing Wikipedia editing storm sweeping the globe.

A search using the Wikiscanner program has revealed Mr Tsang's profile was subjected to extensive favourable editing at the height of his re-election quest from Bank of East Asia offices, where he was running his campaign.

Wikiscanner traces the IP addresses of edits made to the popular online encyclopaedia. Several big companies, government departments and even the office of the Australian prime minister have been accused of removing critical passages.

Wikiscanner searches reveal eight favourable edits on Mr Tsang's page on March 17 originating from Bank of East Asia offices while his re-election campaign was in full swing. All the edits sought to cast a more favourable light on the chief executive.

The bank's chief executive, David Li Kwok-po, was Mr Tsang's campaign director-general.

The editing was so extensive that on March 25, the day he was returned to office, a Wikipedia editor wrote: 'This page has clearly violated the spirit of Wikipedia of self-promoting and individual!!!! [sic]'.

On Mr Tsang's profile, an editor traced to the Independent Commission Against Corruption had earlier added a lengthy diatribe criticising Mr Tsang's environmental record and attempts to tackle pollution.

In two edits last November, when challenger Alan Leong Kah-kit launched his campaign, the ICAC user claimed air pollution had led to the departure of some foreign firms.

However, this entry was also airbrushed on March 25 to note Mr Tsang had 'launched the Action Blue Sky campaign and outlined a comprehensive plan to tackle air pollution in Hong Kong'.

Mr Tsang's press adviser at the time, Yau Suk-yi, said she had 'no impression' of a concerted effort to edit Mr Tsang's page on Wikipedia.

Another edit comes from the Education Bureau, with a user editing the profile of The Society for Truth and Light, the anti-gay rights group controversially hired by the bureau to give teachers human rights courses. An editor using a computer at the bureau in May added an entry calling the society a 'hate group' that 'induced moral panic in local society'.

Equal opportunity organisations and other groups pressured the government not to renew the contract.

The bureau and the ICAC said they were investigating the edits.