Star's ailing father loses freedom bid to have transplant

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 February, 2008, 12:00am

Canto-pop star Eason Chan Yik-shun's father, who needs a liver transplant, has had an appeal against his six-year jail sentence for corruption dismissed.

The Court of Appeal, comprising Chief Judge Geoffrey Ma Tao-li and Vice-President Michael Stuart-Moore, dismissed concerns about the quality of 62-year-old Chan Kau-tai's medical treatment.

A liver scan in December revealed evidence 'strongly suggestive' of liver cancer, according to George Lau Ka-kit, assistant dean of the University of Hong Kong's medical faculty.

It was suggested Chan Kau-tai's chance of recovering from a transplant would be much improved if he were freed. He is being held at the secure ward of Queen Mary Hospital.

Chan was convicted by a jury on November 13, 2006, of nine counts of accepting advantages as a public servant between April 1999 and August 2001. He was acquitted of the most serious charge - that he accepted HK$1.5 million for manipulating a tender for redevelopment of Upper Wong Tai Sin Estate.

It was the second time he had been tried on the charges. The Court of Appeal had overturned his previous convictions in December 2005 after it was revealed an anti-graft officer's drink-driving and careless driving convictions were not disclosed to the defence.

Andrew Macrae SC argued yesterday that sentencing judge Michael Lunn had not paid enough attention to Chan's ill health in arriving at the sentence. However, the judges did not agree.

'He is said to be fit for a liver transplant and we were informed that his son has volunteered to be a donor,' the court said. 'Plainly [Chan] is in good hands and, whilst it is unfortunate that he is in such poor health, we are satisfied that the approach taken by [Mr Justice Lunn] was correct.'

It was also argued that the sentence itself was excessive given Chan was acquitted of the charge involving the most money. At most, Mr Macrae had argued, the more minor offences should have brought concurrent sentences of three years.

But the court noted that for all sentences to run concurrently, the offences would normally have had to be committed as part of a single course of conduct, or as a 'single transaction'.

'Most of these offences, however, involved different offerors from different companies and the bribes were for different things. [Chan] was behaving in the classic mould of one who was prepared to do almost anything it was in his power to achieve, provided the price he was paid for doing it was sufficient.'

What had to be considered was the effect such corruption could have on society, the court said. 'It is hard to imagine a more blatant case of public corruption and, in our view, the sentence [Chan] received might well have been heavier than the one the judge imposed,' the court said.