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  • Apr 19, 2014
  • Updated: 11:44am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 August, 2013, 10:51am

Cathay Pacific junket debacle is shamelessness at a whole new level

Poor Cheng Yiu-tong! I don't mean this rhetorically. It turns out the Executive Councillor really is poor. When asked whether he would cough up the money after being exposed for taking a luxury, all-expenses-paid trip to France by Cathay Pacific along with a group of lawmakers, he flatly refused.

He said he did nothing wrong as he had already declared the trip, adding: "I won't give it back, and I have no budget to give it back."

That ought to be the political quote of the year.

The long-time head of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions, now its honorary president, Cheng apparently doesn't make enough money to cover the business class tickets for himself and a family member. Or, more likely, the pro-Beijing unionist is unrepentant because he thinks such junkets are perks of the job. The media and other politicians, he said, have for many years accepted junkets. Yes, that's true, though no one ever paid a lavish overseas trip for myself and my wife. No corporation would bother with small fry like me who have no power to scrutinise a licensing application that might create a rival airline to Cathay or approve the budget for building a third airport runway.

No doubt fellow traveller Ip Kwok-him felt the same way as Cheng. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong member said the trip was just for socialising.

Both men take shamelessness to a new level. All but one of the other lawmakers on the trip have promised to pay back a part or most of the costs.

Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan has been hiding his role as a board member of the Airport Authority and so is most exposed to charges of conflict of interest. But at least he promises to pay back HK$50,000, as does fellow Democrat James To Kun-sun. Elizabeth Quat, another DAB member, would donate part of the cost of the free ticket to a charity. Chan Kin-por, of the insurance sector, would give HK$80,000 to the Hong Kong Red Cross. The Liberal Party's Felix Chung Kwok-pan said he would make a charity donation but didn't say how much. Pro-democracy lawmaker Kenneth Leung, of the accounting sector, has said he would donate HK$100,000.

But independent lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok has said nothing so far.

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dynamco
RTHK News
'Exco's declartion system stringent' 27-08-2013 Tony Flores reports The acting Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, has said the operation of the interest declaration system within the Executive Council is stringent and healthy.
She said Exco member Cheng Yiu-tong had met all of the necessary requirement before embarking on a Cathay Pacific junket to France more than a week ago.
But the trip led to speculation that there might be conflict of interest and forced many of the legislators who took part in the trip to donate money to local charities as
reimbursment.
Mrs Lam said it was up to Mr Cheng to decide for himself whether he should donate money to charity as reimbursement for the trip.
Mr Cheng has already refused, saying he did nothing wrong.
However, Mrs Lam said Mr Cheng would be reminded to make another declaration to Exco, if it were to discuss airline-related issues.
It would then be for the Chief Executive to decide if there was any conflict of interest, and whether Mr Cheng would need to be absent from the discussion.
pslhk
Thank you for your comment, honger
-
I feel no qualm using my Master and Visa
in trips which I flash AE to gain access to VIP lounges
I pick up Metro, Standard, Headline News …
without having to buy any of their ads and editorial opinions
-
I’ve more confidence in our legislators
that they won’t feel obliged to tv broadcasters
after enjoying their free programs
-
Legislators are representatives of their constituents
That’s why you don’t but they do, sit and speak in the legislature
where they have an office where they (supposedly) read consultation papers
and work according to established regulations
Voters can't expect same tretment of a legislator - simple democratic reality
That’s why they and not you
are invited to “education” trips
-
Trust may not be the issue
but neither is regulation
For legislators who declared
there is no question of violation
-
Those who doubt legislators' integrity may raise questions
but criticisms must be reasonable and in proper proportionality
Legally, acceptance of the invitation is not a strict liability
Morally, they shouldn’t be denied reasonable doubt
-
There are in our midst unreliable agitators
those with ulterior motives to stir up troubles
by fabricating unrealistic moral standards
for retrospective application in HK
moral standards higher than they could understand
and can’t be found anywhere in the world
John Adams
Hum ! If the Court of Public Opinion is anything to go by ( as sampled by the SCMP comments these past few days) Messrs Ho, To and all of the junket jolly group should be locked up for life.
On second thought, that's not sufficient for Ho and To, they being leading pan-dams and now leading hypocrites.
Bring back the gallows !
amenka
this is a joke. giving money to charity doesnt change anything
Camel
Meaning paying money will clear you from your sins?
Ok, they declared the trip. But if it where government officials who would have joined this trip and not the Pan-Democrates, they would already have taken the streets for days, yelling and demanding the resignation of those officials. Long Hair would have causing trouble and chaos in the Legco next to throwing fruits.
If they would live up to their own high standard they laid out for the authorities, politicians (mostly from the pro-government) in HK they "monitor", they would have taken the consequences already to resign from their posts, or never dare to critisize another lawmaker from the enemy party for their wrongdoings again.
daniel18
What if CY Leung takes the free trip this time, I am quite sure the pan-DAMN will take it to the street until Mr Leung step down! How about Mr Leung donates some money to the charity? Not a chance because the pan DAMN will bite him like a crocodile until he die. Jame To and Ablert Ho is a lawyer. They should understand it is not about the question of paying back or not, but it is the misdeed the offenders committed that really matters. So, you two chubbies is not only ill concept but also shallow! Cheng Yui Tong is the same greedy folks. Ablert Ho is taking government money or taxpayer money to rent a office that is owned by his wife. I donno why he still can remain unfazed! They just wanna scramble for as much taxpayer money as they can!
caractacus
Accepting advantages when one is in a conflict of interest is unacceptable and paying back the money doesn't erase the fact.
The worrying thing with these and so many of our so-called leading citizens is they do not seem to have the slightest inkling of the meaning of conflict of interest. Did their parents teach them any ethical values at all? Or are ethics and integrity another mystery to them?
Hong Kong's administration and institutions are filled with people who cannot conceive that holding public office is for any other purpose than to benefit themselves. Abuse is an accepted norm.
One can only hope that Legco votes to allow free competition on the airline routes where Cathay Pacific's cartel rigs sky high air fares at the expense of passengers.
sipsip1238
The way these ministers "repent" by donating money just emphasis the idea that "money buys everything" in Hong Kong society.
How is it that you can get away from corruption and abusing power via your position and then gain social acceptance again after giving a small donation.
Cheng probably doesn't have a budget to repay, can't expect someone to cut back on their luxurious lifestyle
tennisboy
Good job Alex in biting on to his story like a pit bull! Albert Ho and his colleagues would not let any conflict of interest dealings die down when is the case of a government official; and so we should not until he comes out in public to explain his actions, apologize, and resign. What's good for the goose is good for the gander.
chaz_hen
"pro Beijing unionist"? Isn't that an oxymoron like "military intelligence" or "business ethics"?

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