Chief secretary's links to net group questioned
Lawmakers are demanding Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen answer claims that he has links to an internet organisation embroiled in a HK$220 million government contract row.
Pan-democratic and government-friendly legislators also called on Tang - who is widely tipped to stand for the position of next chief executive - to dispel suggestions in media reports yesterday that he may have begun a 'soft'' online campaign to promote his candidacy using civil-service time.
Tang, along with other potential hopefuls for the city's top job, has not officially announced his candidacy.
The lawmakers said Tang needed to clarify his links to the Internet Professional Association (iProA) and whether he had ever used it to do online work for him.
The group is caught up in a controversy sparked by former civil servant Jeremy Godfrey's allegations that it won a contract to co-administer a HK$220 million IT learning programme because of interference from top government officials.
Apple Daily reported yesterday that iProA was involved in the design of Tang's webpage.
In a statement issued through the government's Information Services Department yesterday, Tang said: 'All of my allocation of government resources complies with government regulations,' adding he had 'no participation in the internet learning programme'.
Lawmakers remained dissatisfied, despite Tang's statement. 'It is reasonable for the public to link Tang's [online] initiative and the internet learning programme together as both of them allege [links to] iProA,' pan-democratic lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan said.
'Both of the cases should be investigated thoroughly - although separately at this stage - to see if they are linked,' she said, referring to Godfrey's allegations that political intervention in the learning programme went 'beyond Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah'.
Lawmaker Lam Tai-fai, a close ally of Tang, said the chief secretary should give an answer to the public as soon as possible. The industrial lawmaker said he would query Tang in the Legislative Council.
Kenny Chien Kwok-keung, an iProA council member who is responsible for implementing the internet learning programme, said the association had not helped Tang make any website.
He also said the association had not had any communication with the chief secretary or his office during discussions on the programme.
Political commentator Allen Lee Peng-fei said the incident had dealt a serious blow to Tang's bid for chief executive. 'Henry Tang will face queries ... if he declares his candidacy in future. I believe the chance for him to run for chief executive is getting slimmer in the wake of the controversy,' said Lee, who was founding chairman of the Liberal Party of which Tang was a former member.