Insurance approval was 'a mistake'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 December, 2007, 12:00am

Former Tourism Board chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said yesterday she made a mistake approving an expensive medical insurance plan for an executive director but she had been misled.

Addressing the Legislative Council's Public Accounts Committee, Mrs Chow said she had not checked Clara Chong Ming-wah's employment contract to make sure the medical plan was in line with the agreed terms.

'I didn't work there on a daily basis. Therefore, when I was asked to give approval, to a certain extent, I had to depend on the administration for advice,' Mrs Chow said. 'I would not query what they told me. For example, on this occasion, they said it was a suitable plan. I did not challenge them. I did not ask them to prove the case to me.' Mrs Chow reiterated that she had no recollection of agreeing to 'a super plan' for the former executive director.

'When I read the e-mail, I did not check the contract. I relied on the e-mail, thinking that was part of the terms and that she was entitled to the plan and the annual premium was suitable. To a certain extent, I relied on what was said in e-mail,' Mrs Chow said.

Legislator Albert Cheng King-hon said the board should consider requiring more signatures on the contract given such an extravagant plan.

Asked to explain why she needed such medical coverage, Ms Chong said she only requested a comprehensive executive medical plan, which was more extensive than the one provided for other staff.

She said that given her poor health in 2003, she had wanted a plan that offered more flexible terms, fewer restrictions on medical consultations with specialists and greater worldwide coverage.

Lawmaker Mandy Tam Heung-man asked Ms Chong if she thought she was too greedy asking taxpayers to pick up her medical bills. Ms Chong declined to respond, accusing Ms Tam of a personal attack.