Legco rebuke for aide's sacking

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 March, 2012, 12:00am


Democratic Party lawmaker Kam Nai-wai failed to live up to public expectations and jeopardised the image of the legislature after he sacked a female aide who had spurned his affections, a Legco panel investigation concluded.

But Kam escaped any penalty. Yesterday's report - which took the seven-member Legislative Council committee just over two years to complete - said his acts were not so grave as to warrant a disqualification. The panel comprised lawmakers from the pro-establishment camp.

The 26-month panel investigation cost HK$1.57 million.

Lawmakers are set to vote on a censure motion on April 18. But because pan-democratic lawmakers are expected to veto it, a two-thirds majority of the 60-member Legco is not likely and Kam would not lose his seat.

The 500-page report established that Kam had covered up details in response to media inquiries; he first told the press that he did not show any affection towards his assistant.

It was found that his media assistant, former Asia Television journalist Kimmie Wong Lai-chu, started to avoid Kam after he showed what he called 'good feelings' in June 2009.

The report said Kam's affections 'had caused pain to his subordinate', making their relationship 'complicated and tense'.

Kam yesterday redefined his 'good feelings'.

'At that time, I was always showing friendly encouragement to my assistant, but it turned out that she was feeling frustrated. Today I express my sincere apology to Ms Wong,' he said.

But the report found that 'Kam's expression of good feelings ... can reasonably be regarded as an expression of affection between a man and a woman, i.e. ... making advances'.

Two days after Wong refused his invitation to lunch on September 22, 2009, she was sacked without notice.

Because Wong decided not to attend any Legco hearings nor submit any statements, the panel could not say her rejection of the invitation triggered the dismissal.

'In the end, Mr Kam resorted to dismissing Ms Wong with immediate effect even though she had not made any serious mistakes.

'The investigation committee expresses regrets at the behaviour of Mr Kam as a supervisor,' the report said.

It rejected punishing Kam by disqualification because such a move would overturn a choice made by voters.

Mandy Tam Heung-man, a former lawmaker and employer of Wong, called the decision 'disappointing'.

The report recommended that the legislature review procedures for dealing with allegations of member misconduct and to see that there are appropriate remedies for complaints of varying gravity.

Meanwhile, the panel defended the length of time it took to reach its conclusion.

Panel chairwoman Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun said this was the first time such a committee had been invoked, so members had to formulate rules that guaranteed fairness to all parties.