Key names blacked out in dossier on IT contract

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 June, 2011, 12:00am


A 30-centimetre-thick pile of documents submitted by the government to bat away IT whistle-blower Jeremy Godfrey's accusation of political interference in tendering for an education scheme does no such thing, say lawmakers.

Instead, it has prompted more questions about the awarding of a HK$220 million contract for the subsidised internet-learning scheme, lawmakers say.

That's because details, including names, in the documents are blacked out, members of Legco's IT panel say.

The sheaf of documents was posted to the panel just 40 hours ahead of a special meeting today.

Some panel members who viewed the restricted documents - including records of exchanges between senior officials - said giving the legislature full powers of investigation was the only way a complete account of the matter would be obtained.

The Democratic Party and the Civic Party said they would take action at today's meeting, where Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah will have his first direct encounter with Godfrey, the government's former chief information officer, about the row.

Godfrey says Tsang and Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Elizabeth Tse Man-yee exerted pressure on him to make sure the contract - to implement an internet learning scheme for needy families - went to a company called the Internet Professional Association (iProA). He has told legislators he was instructed that Tsang considered it mandatory for iProA to implement the programme, and that Tse told him the instruction came from 'beyond the financial secretary'.

The identities of key people in the row are blacked out in the documents, which the South China Morning Post has seen. Among them are the person who insisted iProA and the Hong Kong Council of Social Service be given equal weighting in the selection process.

In an e-mail sent to the then commerce and economic development secretary, Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan, Tse said there was mention of a person who had 'felt strongly about equal footing' between the two bidders during a lunch she and Godfrey attended.

The e-mail arrived on January 3, two days before Godfrey resigned.

Some of the documents have whole paragraphs missing.

Panel member Lee Wing-tat, of the Democratic Party, said the blacking out of names reinforced the need for Legco to invoke special powers to launch a full investigation, and his party would propose a motion to invoke them.

In new documents submitted to the panel yesterday, Godfrey pointed out that Ng seemed to be aware of the political requirement to select iProA, but did not regard delivering it as her 'assignment'.