Ex-deputy director regrets 'negligence' on health plan

PUBLISHED : Friday, 14 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 14 December, 2007, 12:00am

A former deputy executive director of the Tourism Board has admitted negligence over an extravagant insurance plan enjoyed by executive director Clara Chong Ming-wah.

In a marathon session at the Legislative Council yesterday, Grace Lee Chan Ka-yan, who served as Ms Chong's deputy, said she wrote in an e-mail that the chairman had approved medical coverage benefits such as the encashment of travel allowances. 'I should have said I had the chairman's words directly regarding the travel allowance. It was negligence on my part,' Mrs Lee said. 'I'm sorry that, looking back, I omitted a few words.'

She said she believed then chairman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee had agreed Ms Chong could take out any medical insurance coverage she wanted.

Mrs Chow said human resources officials had raised concerns that the inclusion of such a 'super' medical plan in Ms Chong's employment contract might be difficult to justify and might lead to credibility issues.

She said: '[Grace Lee] said I had agreed verbally to upgrade her medical plan to an unlimited one ... If I had said something beyond the scope of the contract, why didn't somebody tell me?' She said she was 'shocked' when she saw that the signed contract included the unlimited medical insurance coverage.

Mrs Lee said Mrs Chow and Ms Chong had negotiated the terms for the renewal of the executive director's contract, including a medical plan suitable for Ms Chong and her family.

In February or March 2004, Mrs Lee was tasked with finding a suitable plan and informing the chairman of the premiums for formal approval. As she was very busy at that time, she asked the human resources department in April or May to look for a plan.

On September 2 she e-mailed the chairman about the selected plan, thinking Mrs Chow had agreed to it. Mrs Lee said she wrote in Ms Chong's contract that she was entitled to it in the belief that there was an agreement between the chairman and the executive director. 'Clara told me the chairman had agreed verbally to such a plan,' Mrs Lee said.