• Thu
  • Aug 28, 2014
  • Updated: 12:28pm
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GOVERNANCE

Legislators on Cathay junket give to charity

Contrite lawmakers offer price of flights to appease critics who say trip may have given rise to a conflict of interest on aviation issues

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 August, 2013, 4:27am

At least six lawmakers who went on a Cathay Pacific junket to France will donate tens of thousands of dollars to local charities, after their earlier explanations or apologies failed to satisfy critics who say the trip may have created a conflict of interest.

Six local environmental groups issued a joint statement yesterday, calling for executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong and the eight other lawmakers involved to take a cautious approach in considering whether a third runway should be added at the city's airport.

On Thursday, some of the lawmakers confirmed that during the contentious six-day trip, Cathay management had reiterated the "importance" of the airport gaining an extra runway, and Cathay's opposition to potential rival Jetstar Hong Kong's bid for an air operator's licence.

In a joint statement yesterday, the Democratic Party's Albert Ho Chun-yan and James To Kun-sun appeared to back down and apologise. They vowed to donate HK$50,000 each to a charity of Cathay Pacific's choice as reimbursement for the cost of their wives' trips.

"We understand that it doesn't make it right to do something because it wasn't criticised by the public before," they wrote. "And it is natural for the public to have a higher expectation of the democrats [because it is our job to] monitor the government."

On Thursday, Ho and To initially admitted being insensitive, but also suggested the trip was a business "exchange". However, hours later, the Democratic Party's central committee said its lawmakers' acceptance of Cathay's junket was inappropriate. It had yet to decide on any follow-up action, said party chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing, who apologised to the public.

Eight lawmakers travelled with a family member, either a spouse or child, from Hong Kong to Toulouse via Paris, and returned on Cathay's new aircraft. According to the airline's website, it costs at least HK$58,300 for a one-way business-class flight from Hong Kong to Paris.

Accounting lawmaker Kenneth Leung said he would donate at least HK$50,000 to charity.

"I asked Cathay Pacific how much it cost [for my wife to travel with me] and I may donate more than HK$50,000," Leung said.

Insurance sector lawmaker Chan Kin-por, who went to Britain with his wife on business before joining the group in France, said he gave HK$80,000 to the Hong Kong Red Cross because Cathay paid for their detour to London and the journey to Paris.

Elizabeth Quat, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, and the Liberal Party's Felix Chung Kwok-pan were also planning to give to charity.

Lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok, who also went on the trip, and Cheng could not be reached for comment last night.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

John Adams
This case is NOT closed !
.
Actually, for me Albert Ho is - now was - somewhat of a hero ( Edward Snowden etc).
So to find him doing exactly the same things he and the pan- dems have accused others of doing is more than disappointing : It's downright hypocrisy, which I hate more than anything.
But, even worse: by comparison with all the other accusations to the ICAC (Anthony Leung, Franklin Lam, Barry Cheung etc) this case really DOES reek of collusion and corruption : the giving and receiving of an advantage.
Take the Anthony Leung case : for a man like him with his huge financial assets even the idea of him trying to dodge a new car tax is absurd. I guess he resigned because he was so disgusted with politics, and we are by far the worse off to have lost someone of his ability as FS ( can you compare Leung to Tsang intellectually ? ) . But for people like Ho and To and the others on the junket - yes I can believe this was quite a financial treat for them, which is why they even took along their wives for fun. Why else take a week off to France from their busy schedules - and pose so merrily for the group photo ?
.
I hope that Tony Cheung @ SCMP will keep reporting on this story, and especially use the detailed information dynamco has so diligently researched, until finally the ICAC decides to investigate INDEPENDENTLY.
carmeledwin
Since the pan-democratic politicians are not doing it, I think we should go to ICAC and make a report against Albert Ho, James To and CX. After all, they did that to a former Exco member who after clearing his name resigned. Maybe we should have a protest march asking for their resignation That will at least let them have a taste of their own medicine.
John Adams
Yes !
dynamco
Update:
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
chanaa
donations ? It wasnt good enough for the pauls, anthonys, franklins, its not now. Resign. Call for icac investigation. Govt & indepenedent enquiry. Where are all these pan demos disruptive tools when one of theirs mess up ?
Dont let them get away with it.
John Adams
Yes I agree.
As far as I recall the "I" in ICAC stands for INDEPENDENT.
And "C" stands for CORRUPTION.
dynamco
Update: now revealed two more Legco members on the trip than reported
10 Legco members, 1 Exco member, 2 HKAA lobbyists, 1 unnamed HK Baptist U academic + equal number family members =28
www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/1299095/no-room-advantage#comment-35363
The group photo shows 28 CX sponsored freeloaders
16 women & 12 men
Assuming all known invitees took one partner that leaves four unknown freeloaders
Who are they & who is the Baptist University freeloader couple ?
Legco
DEMOCRATS Legco declaration of interest form date CX sponsored Trip to France
1 Albert Ho Chun-yan declaration 23/8 for trip 16-21/8
2 James To Kun-sun declaration 23/8 for trip 16-21/8
ACCOUNTING
3 Kenneth Leung declaration 13/8 for trip 16-21/8
DAB
4 Ip Kwok-him declaration 20/8 for trip 17-21/8
5 Elizabeth Quat declaration 20/8 for trip 16-21/8 via Frankfurt
LIBERAL Party
6 Felix Chung Kwok-pan declaration 21/8 for trip 17-21/8
INDEPENDENTS
7 Chan Kin-por declaration 22/8 for trip 16-21/8 (also adds Scottish Parliament trip 12-16/8 2013)
8 Ma Fung-kwok declaration 21/8 for trip 17-21/8
EXCO
9 Cheng Yiu-tong Chairman HKFTU
www.ceo.gov.hk/exco/eng/cheng_yiu-tong.html
www.ceo.gov.hk/exco/pdf/Cheng_Yiu-tong_e.pdf declared 09 /8 2013 for trip 17-21
AIRPORT AUTHORITY former chief executive
10 Billy Lam Chung-lun
AIRPORT AUTHORITY board member
11 Huen Wong
Unnamed academic from Baptist University
12 HU Da-fok RU
caractacus
Prosecute Cathay pacific as well.
caractacus
They say the trip MAY have created a conflict of interest? It looks very obvious that Cathay Pacific
was blatantly lobbying for a 3rd runway and to shaft its competitor Jetstar so that it and the other cartel airlines can continue to rig the market by fixing ticket prices at outrageously high levels.
This is all at the expense of regional customers who pay far more for regional flights in Asia than European or American regional passengers.
dynamco
hkupop.hku.hk/english/report/budgetAirline2013/content/resources/pr.pdf
Survey reveals Hong Kong’s demand for LCCs
Near 70 per cent of Hong Kong residents surveyed recently said they intended to travel on a low cost carrier (LCC) in the next 12 months despite LCCs only representing six per cent of all flights into and out of Hong Kong International Airport.
The research, conducted by the Public Opinion Programme at the University of Hong Kong (HKUPOP) on behalf of Jetstar Hong Kong, also confirmed the ongoing appetite from local residents for more low cost travel with 84 per cent saying they would welcome more LCCs to the market.
Key findings of the research:
• 79% of Hong Kong people said they will fly more if the fares are lower
• 81% of people said they would spend more on hotels and activities if they saved on their airfare
• 84% welcome more home-based LCC airlines
• Nearly 70% of Hong Kong people said they intend to travel on an LCC in the next 12 months
Jetstar Hong Kong CEO Edward Lau said the research indicated strong flow on benefits of more low cost carrier travel with 81 per cent of respondents saying they would spend more on their hotel and holiday activity if they could save on the airfare.
“By making air travel more accessible to more people, not only will we see more people travelling more often, but we will see people spending more money at their destination including those visiting Hong Kong,” Mr Lau said.

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