HK$10,000 fine for lawmaker who browsed sexy pictures on his tablet during budget debate

Albert Ho apologises to Democratic Party as panel finds he undermined its reputation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 March, 2014, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 2:57am

Flicking through pictures of scantily-clad women instead of listening to the budget has proved costly for lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan, who became the first Democratic Party member to be fined for misbehaviour.

The former party chairman has agreed to pay his HK$10,000 fine to a women's group or similar non-governmental organisation, the party said yesterday.

Ho was called before a panel set up by the party's disciplinary committee after pictures emerged of him looking at images of models in bikinis on his tablet computer as Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah delivered his two-hour budget speech to the Legislative Council.

"Ho accepted the judgment and apologised to the public and his fellow party members," the panel said in a statement. "He has promised to learn from this and remind himself to maintain a high standard of conduct."

Ho said last night that he "humbly accepted the judgment, warning and punishment made by the panel" and again apologised for the incident.

Democrats chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said the party had never levied a fine before, although it had kicked members out for misconduct. She said it received fewer than 10 complaints from members of the public about Ho's actions.

Lau said she respected and welcomed the panel's decision, but "could not comment further as the disciplinary committee is independently operated".

"I hope all our party colleagues would concentrate more and be prudent when carrying out their duties."

Ho has been told to make the donation by the end of the month and show receipts. He had "accepted the judgment and would not appeal against it", the committee said.

Ho, a lawyer, has been a lawmaker since 1995 and stood unsuccessfully for chief executive in 2012. He resigned as chairman of the party after six years after a disappointing performance in the Legco election.

It is not the first time the Democratic Party has disciplined a lawmakers. In 2006, James To Kun-sun was suspended as deputy convenor of the party caucus for six months over a blunder involving misuse of public funds. A 2009 scandal involving the sacking of an assistant by then-lawmaker Kam Nai-wai prompted a review of party disciplinary proceedings.