Whistle-blower hearing told of office grudges
Tanna Chong and Amy Nip
The government yesterday presented witnesses and e-mails at a Legco meeting, seeking to pour cold water on claims by whistle-blower Jeremy Godfrey of political interference in a contract and question his character.
Godfrey says there was political pressure from the highest official levels to award a HK$220 million contract to a particular company.
Deputy chief information officer Joey Lam Kam-ping told of her grudges against her former superior. She said Godfrey was at odds with the whole office when he proposed selecting two winning bidders and getting them to collaborate. 'All the five colleagues involved in the project strongly disagreed with the collaboration approach,' said Lam. 'But Godfrey insisted.'
The Hong Kong Council of Social Service got the highest score in a selection process for a subsidised internet-learning scheme, but Godfrey proposed collaboration between the council and a company called the Internet Professional Association (iProA). He thought iProA was stronger in business development. But Lam said that deviated from normal procedures, under which the council would have been the single winner.
Godfrey says there was pressure to give a share of the contract to the politically well-connected iProA. Lam also had a different perception of whether there was a political agenda behind the internet project. 'No one in the office felt there was a political agenda.'
She said Godfrey was an emotional and sensitive man, citing a Hongkong Post project during which he lost his temper with her. 'I was quoting a permanent secretary's note on the digital certificate project to Godfrey, and then his temper rose, and he said he should be the one deciding what to do,' she said.
E-mails exchanged by Godfrey and his boss, Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Elizabeth Tse Man-yee, suggested he had a sour relationship with Tse. 'Throwing tempers will not solve the problem in front of us,' Tse wrote to Godfrey in one e-mail.