'I had nothing to gain by giving Tsang a yacht ride'
Sing Tao News chairman Charles Ho Tsu-kwok yesterday admitted welcoming the chief executive on board his luxury yacht in Macau but insisted there was no conflict of interest in giving his friend 'a ride'.
A core supporter of would-be next chief executive Henry Tang Ying-yen, Ho also admitted Tang's illegal underground palace was 'a problem' for his election campaign. 'Most importantly is how he can get back on the right track. No one can help him right now,' he said.
Ho dismissed claims of collusion when he gave Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and his wife Selina 'a lift', saying there was nothing Tsang could do to help his business. 'The boat trip was not specifically intended for Tsang,' Ho said. 'My boat had to go back to Hong Kong anyway. Is it illegal to give a ride to a friend? I don't think I have done anything wrong.
'I am not in the property business. I just own a newspaper in Hong Kong. I don't think there is any benefit he can give me. We did not discuss politics on the boat.'
Ho also said there was nothing suspicious behind his and Tsang's conflicting versions of what they ate on the boat. Tsang said it was congee with pork and noodles with soy sauce. Ho said baked coconut chicken Portuguese-style.
'There were several meals. I did not follow him everywhere he went,' Ho said.
Thomas Lau Luen-hung, chairman of Lifestyle International Holdings, who was on the yacht with Tsang and Ho, would not comment on what he said was a private matter but denied any conflict of interest.
Tsang has also been under scrutiny over a deal to rent a Shenzhen penthouse from mainland property tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau.
Former National People's Congress delegate Allen Lee Peng-fei pointed the finger at Tang's rival Leung Chun-ying, saying he heard rumours about the penthouse from 'someone who later joined Leung's camp' before it was in the media.
Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun, Leung's campaign office director, said 'there has long been rumours in politics' about Tsang's penthouse, but 'we didn't spread the word'.
Leung's campaign office chairman, Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, also insisted they were not the source of the reports. 'I believe those familiar with the matter know that we did not do it,' he said.