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GOVERNANCE

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

johnyuan
As legal matters progress at snail pace in Hong Kong, Mr. Ivan Chu ascendance in March next year is timely selected to be the CE of Cathay Pacific. He will then face the music of the current flying to Paris fiasco for the legislators. He would too under the pressure for Cathay to lobby against Jetstar and lobby for the third runway. Chu being not a British perhaps was the prime consideration for the promotion in relationship of the anticipated tasks. It is highly possible that Cathay this time has no confidence to get what it wishes. Any failure will be unprecedented in its history and should never happened under a full blooded Brit. John Slosar is prepared leaving the kitchen when it is getting too hot. The open collusion of the trip was a handy gamble of no consequence to him personally.
dynamco
Update:
have found two more Legco members on the trip than reported by the press
add - Abraham Shek & Andrew Leung to the list
Updated junketeers :10 Legco members, 1 Exco member, 2 HKAA lobbyists, 1 unnamed HK Baptist U academic + equal number family members = 28 freebies
See the list:
www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1299095/no-room-advantage#comment-35363
ah yes everyone knows this, right ? -
www.hongkongairport.com/eng/pdf/media/publication/report/12_13/E_09_The_Board.pdf
Check out some of the members on the Board of the Hong Kong Airport Authority
Are you surprised ?
The Honourable Albert Ho Chun-yan . Member of theLegislative Council. Tuen Mun District Council Member.
Member of the ICAC Complaints Committee.(Gee!)
Mr Stanley H ui Hon-chung JP
Chief Executive Officer
Former Chief Executive Officer of Dragonair and Chief Operating Officer of Air Hong Kong.
The Honourable Chan Kam-lam Member of the Legislative Council
Chairman of the Panel on Transport, Member of the Finance Committee
The Honourable Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung Non-official Member of the Executive Council. Member
of the Legislative Council.
Ms Miriam Lau Kin-yee GBS JP Liberal Party ex Transport Functional Constituency member in Legco
ayaaaaaaaaah!
johnyuan
It is quite normal for a corporation to lobby government including LEGCO in its interest. It is abnormal for the lobbied of those entrusted by the general public to accept personal advantage from the lobbying corporation. The Cathay, LEGCO and the CE Council are now intertwined with a defenseless act of collusion. The calculating minds of those involved know collusion is not a crime in Hong Kong and certainly safe from investigation by ICAC. The free trip for Cathay it has big objectives to fill but for the one who took the trip was just a personal material gratification that last a week. The latter certainly being appeared comically stupid for falling into a trap of collusion for such small personal gain as appear to be. The general public and the press, when our institutions failed us must keep all eyes on the ball for the days to come. The silver lining to this unfortunate saga is that Cathay lobbied for its interest unusually in the open and hope it keeps ICAC at bay for the days to come.
Camel
So, Albert Ho explains that they maybe need some detailed "guidelines" for lawmakers to better understand what they can accept and what not. Well, when Donald Tsang was under fire, his words and accusations sounded very differently. Double Standards, Mr. Ho????
johnyuan
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.
.
mercedes2233
Cathay should be punished for bribery, and the participants, not the Govt, should repay the travel costs, and banned from discussions relating to the airport. And penalized of course for accepting the bribes. Stupid people.
captam
Collusion and sleaze. This is the normal way of "democracies" just as much as in one party states. But the naive and dumb pan-democrat supporters think that Western style democracy will bring clean 'government. Dream on!
johnyuan
I don’t think any political party in Hong Kong sees collusion as a social-political problem – they all went to have a good time in Paris, no? I would focus on the misbehavior of these politicians and condemn them and the collusion culture in Hong Kong – people to people, people to government, corporation to people, and corporation to government ….. the entire possible combinations. So daring this time that it is right out in the open in your face.
isaacau
Contrary the Cap 201 s 3 (Soliciting or accepting an advantage )
dmw
3rd runway = more capacity = airline expansion. Approval is needed from LegCo Finance Committee to inject funds for the project. Open skies = competition, closed skies and bilateral agreements = home carrier advantage and less competition. Oh, and did anyone mention the lack of merger controls in the Competition Ordinance, for anything other than telecoms?

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