Donald Tsang

Patten speaks up in defence of Donald

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 March, 2012, 12:00am


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Retiring Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen doesn't have many friends these days. But since the furore over 'Luxurygate', two people of impeccable integrity and with no skin in the fight have come out in his defence, and no one paid any attention.

A good thing about writing a column is that you don't always have to follow the dictum 'Only bad news is good news'. So let me report on what the two people said, out of fairness.

While taking part in a financial forum at the Grand Hyatt on Thursday, Hong Kong's last governor, Chris Patten, was asked his opinion of Tsang, in light of the so-called scandal over various advantages Tsang supposedly accepted from some dodgy tycoons.

Patten said: 'It is a sensitive time, I know, but I'll stick to this. My grandmother told me to always say the truth; I shall speak the truth for my friend Donald Tsang. He worked with me for a long time and I know him well. There is no reason for me to doubt his commitment to Hong Kong and his integrity. I'll stick to this view.'

There was no need for Patten to stick his neck out and risk being accused of trying to interfere in local affairs.

Last week, this paper published a letter from Elsie Tu, long-time fighter against corruption under British colonialism. 'Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has done much for Hong Kong, but the good he did has been buried in a cruel effort to destroy him,' she wrote. 'No one should speak of corruption in connection with Donald Tsang unless there is absolute proof that corruption was involved. Donald is probably too clean-minded to think a joyride required a bribe.'

A lot of the opprobrium against Tsang has to do with real or perceived government failures. But that has to do with his pursuit of incorrect policies or doing nothing at all. Perhaps history will not judge him kindly, but any judgment is unlikely to involve corruption.