Tang denies affair with banker

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2012, 12:00am


Chief executive hopeful Henry Tang Ying-yen yesterday denied having an affair with the daughter of a rural leader, a day after the Chinese press released pictures and e-mails claiming to prove he had.

'We are only casual acquaintances,' Tang said. 'She is not the first woman to get media coverage and I don't think she will be the last.'

The woman referred to is Esther Lam, the daughter of Heung Yee Kuk vice-chairman Daniel Lam Wai-keung.

Lam, who is married and a private banker with wealth management group UBS, reportedly had an affair with Tang after meeting him at a social gathering in 2009.

A picture accompanying one report was taken on January 10 and shows Tang sitting close to Lam with his arm around her shoulders. Lam was also reported to have visited Tang's office.

One of the newspapers, The Sun, also received copies of e-mails claiming to be correspondence between Tang and Lam. The e-mails have Tang and Lam calling each other 'love' and 'baby'. They discuss the obstacles in their relationship, and one e-mail describes a physical encounter in an office.

But writers of the e-mails could not be identified, as the report did not show e-mail addresses.

While Tang declined to comment on the e-mails, Daniel Lam said they could be forgeries.

'The two have only met at banquets and did not meet privately,' he said. 'You can't make a story out of a single picture.' He said his son-in-law and other friends also attended the banquets.

Lam said the 'exaggerated' reports had hurt his daughter, who had a young son and a loving family. He had confidence in his daughter: 'She was born and educated overseas ... it is not surprising for them to chat and have a picture taken.'

He said his daughter might clarify the situation later but her Chinese was not good and she might not be able to express herself clearly.

He declined to say if the incident would affect his voting preference. 'I will follow the decision of the kuk but express my views when we discuss the kuk's voting preference,' he said.

The kuk has 28 seats on the 1,200-strong Election Committee.

Tang admitted last October that he had 'strayed'. Women reportedly involved include General Chamber of Commerce CEO Shirley Yuen and a former personal assistant of Tang, Elizabeth Chan.

They both denied the claims.