Rita Lau 'puzzled' by lawmaker's claim that she threatened him
A minister yesterday again rebutted an accusation by tourism sector lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun that she made threatening remarks about his political career at a reception.
Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan, secretary for commerce and economic development, said she made no such remarks and called his accusation puzzling.
'I have never said such things,' she said. 'He has invited me to have a public debate [on the issue] which I think is unnecessary.'
She said she would welcome Tse's opinions on how to regulate the tourism sector better at the meeting of the economic development panel in the Legislative Council on February 28.
Tse said Lau told him to worry about 'his political future' when they were discussing regulation of the tourism sector at a reception last week. This came after a well-publicised scuffle between mainland tourist Zhang Yong and local female tour guide Lam Yu-yung.
Tse criticised the new regulatory measures, which took effect on February 1 and were laid down by the Travel Industry Council to crack down on rogue tour guides and forced shopping, claiming they would be ineffective. He said the measures were implemented hastily and should be scrapped.
On Saturday he said on radio that Lau, who backed the measures, told him 'not to go too far' and that doing so would 'risk his political future'.
Tse said that he responded to her throwaway remark about his political career with 'and yours'. Several legislators within earshot of their conversation at the lunch meeting said the two were engaged in a heated discussion but they could not hear exactly what was said.
Tse said yesterday that it was not appropriate for Lau to dismiss the whole issue as puzzling.
'I was disappointed by her response,' he said. 'There are third-party witnesses to our heated discussion. By saying only that she is puzzled, she didn't explain anything about what actually happened. The issue touches on the credibility of the secretary. If she said she hadn't said anything [to me at the reception], why would there have been heated discussions between us?'
Tse said it was not the first time officials from the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau had made threatening remarks to him.
'The remarks this time are similar in tone to previous ones,' he said. 'So I haven't heard them wrongly this time around. But I don't want to reveal the contents of the previous remarks ... as I don't want the issue to affect our work. The most important task in front of us is to revamp the inbound mainland tour sector.'