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  • Jul 24, 2014
  • Updated: 3:56am
NewsHong Kong

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

Is Albert Ho doing a Quasimodo impression in that photo??
No, that's his normal daily face!
How many other govt officials has CX bribed? Free trips for Donald and others? If the trips were to influence govt policy, clearly an offer of an advantage. If the trips were not to influence govt policy, a waste of shareholder funds. Which is it CX?
Apologies are not good enough, especially in the case of the Albert and James. Their double standards are despicable and nothing short of a resignation would be acceptable. They should not be left off the hook so easily.
Exactly. These idiot so called "lawmakers" should have the brains to know what sort of actions set off the public regardless if it was harmless and "ethically acceptable". Total morons.
Hong kong, Asia's most corrupt city from the highest to the lowest level. We get prove of this on a daily basis. These same people want more freedom and democracy? They cannot even handle the freedom and democracy they have now. Pathetic. Kindergarten-mentality!
This whole incident stinks but HK is far from Asia's most cirrupt city.
There are far too many stronger candidates (fortunately or unforunately).
Another bunch of greedy and corrupted politicians to add to the list of greedy and corrupted government officials...............this is what HK has finally become..............
Oath I swear that, being a member of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, I will uphold the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China, bear allegiance to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China and serve the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Integrity - noun -
'adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty'
Is it not time CX also revealed all the other invited freeloaders it has carried in the past ten years ?
It seems they majority of the Toulouse freeloaders were invited in their positions as Legco members, not as individuals.
In a business the recipient of an advantage has to receive the permission of his boss to accept the advantage - does the same thing not apply to Legco members ?
(e) overseas visits made by the Member or his spouse relating to or arising out of membership of the Council where the cost of any such visit has not been wholly borne by the Member or public funds;

(f) any payments or any material benefits or advantages received by the Member or his spouse arising out of his membership of the Council from or on behalf of:

(i) any govt or organization of a place outside hk
This is getting worse. It appears they took side trips, all paid for by CX. Surely ICAC should be investigating this. As regards Albert HO and James TO, the only honourable thing to do is resign.
Come on Emily LAU, you can't rant about malpractice in the administration when your own people are doing the same. Why have you not made a full disclosure. Did they travel first, business or cattle class? I think we know the answer. Did you know about the trip before it happened? Did you sanction it? The public have a right to know!




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