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  • Dec 18, 2014
  • Updated: 11:55pm
NewsHong Kong

Lawmakers face criticism after Cathay junket to France

Free trip comes after airline tries to prevent low-cost start-up carrier from obtaining licence

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 August, 2013, 5:41am

Eight lawmakers have been criticised over potential conflicts of interest after Cathay Pacific treated them to a six-day trip to France.

The travellers included Democrats Albert Ho Chun-yan, James To Kun-sun and accounting lawmaker Kenneth Leung, who were yesterday urged by fellow pan-democrats to declare their interests as soon as possible.

I understand it is a matter of public perception, which demands greater transparency after the Donald Tsang saga
Albert Ho Chun-yan

Five pro-government lawmakers - Ip Kwok-him and Elizabeth Quat of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the Liberal Party's Felix Chung Kwok-pan and independents Chan Kin-por and Ma Fung-kwok - joined them on the junket.

Among the other delegates were Executive Council member Cheng Yiu-tong, former Airport Authority chief executive Billy Lam Chung-lun, Airport Authority board member Huen Wong, and an unnamed academic from Baptist University.

Ho said Legco had no decision-making power related to aviation, but that it was a good time to review the policy on lawmakers taking sponsored trips.

"I understand it is a matter of public perception, which demands greater transparency after the Donald Tsang saga," said Ho, referring to the former chief executive's acceptance of favours from his tycoon friends.

"Although I genuinely do not think there is any possible conflict of interest, as Legco cannot vet any application for [air operator's] licences, Legco should take the opportunity to review the rules."

Cathay has opposed an application by Jetstar Hong Kong, a low-cost airline venture between Shun Tak Holdings, Qantas Airways and China Eastern Airlines, for an air operator's licence.

During the trip, Cathay took delivery of a new aircraft. According to a disclosure made by Leung to Legco, the group spent three days travelling from Hong Kong to Toulouse via Paris, then two days attending presentations, sightseeing and touring the Airbus factory before returning yesterday.

Lawmakers taking sponsored trips are required to make a full disclosure to Legco within 14 days of their return to the city.

Wong said he had made a declaration to the Airport Authority before the trip.

"I've never touched on issues related to Cathay Pacific at the authority, but I was aware the trip might cause some noise," he said.

Civic Party lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching said her fellow pan-democrats should be attentive to public perception.

"This is a sensitive trip at a sensitive time," she said, adding that none of the Civic Party's six lawmakers had been invited.



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This article is now closed to comments

Anything that takes our cretinous lawmakers out of HK even for a few short days should be welcomed. The shame is that they came back
This stinks. If it was related to LEGCO business then please answer the following questions
(A) Why did the spouses go along?
(B) Why Paris?
(C) Why not a local flight and a local briefing if the aircraft was being introduced?
(D) Did you travel business class or first?
The public has a right to know!
Well said, Sir. It is my understanding that Civil Servants cannot accept free flights without getting prior permission and registering the matter with the ICAC. Why are Legislators held to a lesser standard, when they have the power to shape policy. Moreover, James TO and Albert HO are guilty of the most egregious hypocrisy given the strong criticism they have leveled at others.
Fatboy midget Ho is just as greedy as the next politician beside him...........he just seems to be good at pretending to be righteous and a saint.......
These people were quick to criticise Donald Tsang but they seemed so willing to take up the offer. What has a sightseeing trip to Paris got to do with LEGCO business? To me, its definitely an acceptance of advantage. Being lawmakers they could return 'favours' to Cathay Pacific at an appropriate time during their tenure so even if they are not dealing with the 'Jetstar' application they could provide 'convenience' to CP or be a stumbling block to Jetstar by raising queries during the LEGCO sessions..
This is really shameful.
All of them can be depicted to greedy hypocrisies. If fat rat Ho becomes CE, HK will definitely with no hope. Black eyed James To is a lawyer. He should know what to do or not. " No conflict of interest"? Only the god knows. Very superficial and childish explanation! They know that their acceptance of interest will be called into question.
If CX wanted to show off their new plane, I am happy to go to Paris as a Marco Polo member. Otherwise, who are they kidding? OF COURSE the intent is to buy influence.
Business as usual.
What's amazing is that surely these "lawmakers" and community "leaders" knew there would be questions, scrutiny and criticism about this junket given the timing on Jetstar and general buzz in HK about inept and corrupt public servants.
That alone should have led them, if they had any shred of honor and integrity, to say "thanks, but no thanks...I'll pay for my own holiday in France next time."
Besides shaming those went on the trip, albeit no effect of any on such deep rooted collusion culture in Hong Kong, the general public should demand government to reimburse Cathay in full all the expanses it incurred. Punish those who went for poor judgment and barred them from future participation in discussion and voting anything connected with Cathay and airport. I expect SCMP would be double diligent watch over the future development of collusion in the process.
Rule of law, Hong Kong style – collusion right in your face.



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