Mike Rowse calls attacks on Tsang 'ultra-critical'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 November, 2009, 12:00am

Retired InvestHK director general Mike Rowse has stepped forward to defend his former boss, branding recent attacks on Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen as 'ultra-critical' and lacking in common sense.

But he said the wave of public criticism had only reached its height after 'a cumulative series of things' and that a more democratic system would give the chief executive greater moral authority.

In an interview with ATV's Newsline programme broadcast yesterday, Rowse said he was amazed by people's reactions surrounding the light-bulb saga.

Allegations that Tsang had favoured an in-law's light-bulb business with his plan to issue vouchers encouraging the use of energy-saving bulbs saw the chief executive launch a scathing attack on the media last week, saying such suggestions were 'all fabrications and vicious attacks'.

Tsang also faced another allegation that he had intervened in his sister-in-law's claim for compensation for her investment in failed Lehman Brothers minibonds.

'[The reactions in Hong Kong] mean that we're ultra-critical and actually that our critical factors are not working properly,' Rowse said. 'We are not focusing on things that should be criticised. We are merely flailing about and hitting everything. I mean this is a lack of common sense here.'

Asked if he was suggesting that the government was right, Rowse said: 'What we are seeing now must be the result of a cumulative series of things. If the light-bulb thing had just come out against a totally serene background, it would have disappeared.'

He agreed that the chief executive would gain more support with a more democratic system. 'It would give him greater moral authority and [he would] be judged on five years of performance,' he said.

Speaking of his new book, No Minister: The True Story of HarbourFest, being published tomorrow, Rowse said he was just telling his side of the story.

'It should not be characterised as an attack on [Henry Tang Ying-yen, the financial secretary in 2003], or anyone else,' he said. 'He was under great stress as well.'

Rowse, 60, has always maintained that he was made the sacrificial lamb for HarbourFest - a series of concerts put on to help revive the economy in 2003 after the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome - with a civil service disciplinary panel fining him HK$156,660 and reprimanding him severely for his handling of the concerts. A court cleared him of wrongdoing in July last year.