Call for more details on minister's health
Gary Cheung and Tanna Chong
The government was urged yesterday to give more details about the health of Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan amid reports she was suffering from intestinal cancer.
A person familiar with Lau's situation said she had surgery at Queen Mary Hospital on Tuesday.
Lau's office said only that the minister was recovering quickly and would take sick leave from Monday to Friday.
Undersecretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung is acting for her during her sick leave.
Her office declined to comment on whether Lau had cancer.
'While we appreciate the public's concern for the minister's health condition, her sick leave has not caused any implication as the operation of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau is smooth during this period,' her press secretary said.
Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun said Lau's health was not just a matter of privacy as public interest was at stake.
'A minister wields extensive power in his or her policy area.' To said.
'What the administration has said on the matter is obviously not sufficient.'
A government official said the administration has endeavoured to strike a balance between transparency and protection of the minister's privacy.
The official said there was no indication at this stage that Lau would extend her sick leave.
Lau had agreed to attend a competition law forum organised by think tank Economic Synergy today but abruptly changed her plan on Monday.
Due to the suddenness of her cancellation, there will be no substitute from her bureau.
Tourism-sector lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun, who once accused Lau of warning him 'to be careful of his political future', said he had sent a card to show his concern for the minister.