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  • Oct 26, 2014
  • Updated: 5:50pm
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GOVERNANCE

Democrats apologise for Cathay junket

It wasn’t appropriate for lawmakers to accept the free trip, says party’s central committee, and chief Emily Lau says sorry to the public

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 23 August, 2013, 5:21am
 

The Democratic Party considers its lawmakers' acceptance of Cathay Pacific's free trip to France as inappropriate and has apologised to the public.

Its central committee said last night that the party had a guideline which stated that committee members and councillors should not accept any overly generous offers.

If this happened to Leung Chun-ying or [the development minister] Paul Chan Mo-po, they would certainly have been given a hard time

It had yet to decide on any follow-up action, said party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, who made the apology.

Some of the lawmakers who went on the junket yesterday meanwhile promised to remain "unbiased" in doing their job.

They gave this vow after confirming that during the six-day trip Cathay management had reiterated its opposition to potential rival Jetstar Hong Kong's bid for an air operator's licence.

Four out of the eight holidaying lawmakers had yet to declare their interests on the Legislative Council's website yesterday.

Some lawmakers were also found to have deviated from Cathay's itinerary, which was mainly to the Airbus plant in Toulouse.

Elizabeth Quat, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, went to Frankfurt with her husband about a week before the tour and insurance sector representative Chan Kin-por went to Britain with his wife on business before joining the group in France.

Democrats Albert Ho Chun-yan, James To Kun-sun and their wives also flew to Paris last Thursday, a day earlier than the scheduled visit.

Cathay Pacific paid for the Chans' detours to London and Quat's flight to Frankfurt, but it was unsure whether Quat paid for her flights to join her colleagues in France.

All eight lawmakers travelled with a family member, either a spouse or child.

They were criticised because there could be a potential conflict of interest.

Executive Council member Cheng Yiu-tong was also among the delegates, but he could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The Liberal Party's Felix Chung Kwok-pan confirmed that while they were in Toulouse, a Cathay director reiterated the company's stance against an application by Jetstar, a low-cost airline venture between Shun Tak Holdings, Qantas Airways and China Eastern Airlines, for an air operator's licence.

Cathay believed a new licence should go to a local company, it was understood.

"We knew these issues before the journey, so it won't affect our judgment," Chung said.

Albert Ho also said that "the authority to [approve air operator's] licences lies solely with the government". He said lawmakers would not be giving Cathay any favours just because they were treated by the company.

Cathay Pacific said in a statement that for years, it had been the airline's practice to invite guests on aircraft delivery trips and new destination launches.

"New airline licence applications go through the government, not Legco," it said.

Some Hongkongers were not satisfied with the lawmakers' explanation. On RTHK's phone-in programme Talkabout, a caller criticised the three pan-democratic delegates for having double standards.

"If this happened to Leung Chun-ying or [the development minister] Paul Chan Mo-po, they would certainly have been given a hard time," he said.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

mercedes2233
Shame on Cathay and these participants. They should have known better and should now all be prosecuted for offering and accepting bribes.
dynamco
Update: 10 Legco members, not 8
have found two more Legco members on the trip than reported by the press
add - Abraham Shek & Andrew Leung
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
Meanwhile:
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!
hard times !
If Singapore government can even set up a buget airline terminal for the budget airlines to operate though it has its own Singapore Airline (which is partly owned by the Singapore government), I wonder why our Hong Kong government cannot allocate the Terminal No.2 (which has only a few airlines making use of its facilities) to the rising market of budget airlines to operate, including the Jetstar (which is jointly owned by Macau's Stanley family,Australian Airline and Oriental Airline). It will certainly benefit many budget travellers locally and internationally.Cathay Pacific (though a public-listed company here) is owned by the Swire Brothers---a British corporation though it used to claim to be a Hong Kong company !
carmeledwin
People such as Emily Lau, Albert Ho James To etc love to tell people to resign, why are they not resigning? By the way why did Apple Daily not put in their front page headlines? This is all double standards by the Democratic Party. Maybe the pro-government parties should organize a march to tell them to step down?
Camel
Just to be sure, if this incident were related to the Pro-Bejing party, this News would be in big letters and first page at SCMP for days and weeks. But as you can see, Albert Ho is too important to put him for demolition....
chanaa
bribery, protest, illegal, resign, bring in the ICAC. Govt & independent inquest !!! spend & waste more taxpayers money.
now, lets see how loud they shout & how disruptive they are if its their own
carmeledwin
Will we see long hair throwing bananas at them? Will we see Wong Yuk Man screaming obscenities at them? What about Albert Chan? Will he be asking them to step down? What about Lee Cheuk Yan? What is he going to do? I am sure they will all be applying double standards. Telling others to resign but not themselves. Typical of Pan-Democratics here.
Byebye
貪小便宜,可恥 shame on you for shaming Hong Kong, all because of your little greedy action. Suggest remove those who took part in this freebie from their role.
Camel
If members of the government would had taken this "offer" the democrats would be now protesting and demanding them to step down. Longhair would be jumping like a maniac and throwing bananas in the same time. Albert Ho, would have told the public that taken this free "offer" from Cathay should be considered as a "bribe", a very bad thing for puplic officials or lawmakers to do and they should take the consequences and step down. And he would for sure call ICAC to investigate. So, Albert, it's your turn!
dynamco
Calling lawyers out there to clarify:
Cap 201 Prev of Bribery Ordinance
"prescribed officer" (訂明人員) means any person holding an office of emolument, whether permanent or temporary, under the Government;
(c) a person accepts an advantage if he, or any other person acting on his behalf, directly or indirectly takes, receives or obtains, or agrees to take, receive or obtain any advantage, whether for himself or for any other person.
Section: 3 Soliciting or accepting an advantage
Any prescribed officer who, without the general or special permission of the Chief Executive, solicits or accepts any advantage shall be guilty of an offence.
"advantage" (利益) means-
(a) any gift, loan, fee, reward or commission consisting of money or of any valuable security or of other property or interest in property of any description;
(e) the exercise or forbearance from the exercise of any right or any power or duty; and
"entertainment" (款待) means the provision of food or drink, for consumption on the occasion when it is provided, and of any other entertainment connected with, or provided at the same time as, such provisions;
"public body" (公共機構) means-
(a) the Government;
(b) the Executive Council;
(c) the Legislative Council
CAP 1
"public office" (公職) means any office or employment the holding or discharging of which by a person would constitute that person a public officer;
"public officer" (公職人員) means any person holding an office of emolument under the Government

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