Donald Tsang

Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, predecessor Henry Tang possible witnesses in Donald Tsang trial

Judge also urges nine jurors, picked by random ballot, to keep a “fresh and open mind” in deciding fate of city’s former chief executive

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 2:26pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 11:38pm

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her predecessor, Henry Tang Ying-yen, were yesterday named as possible witnesses for the prosecution in the misconduct and corruption trial of former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen.

A nine-member jury was picked by random ballot from a pool of 39 at the High Court and urged to keep a “fresh and open mind” in deciding the fate of Hong Kong’s highest-ranking retired official to go on trial.

Lam and Tang were on the witness list read out to potential jurors to flag any possible conflict of interest, along with government departments and companies to be involved in the trial, which is expected to take 26 days.

Tsang, 72, is accused of failing to disclose his dealings with Wave Media majority shareholder Bill Wong Cho-bau over a rental penthouse in Shenzhen when he was involved in deciding on applications for radio licences by the company, which was later renamed Digital Broadcasting Corp.

Ex-Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang pleads not guilty to bribery charges

Tsang has pleaded not guilty to two counts of misconduct in public office, contrary to common law, and one of accepting an advantage as chief executive, under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. The offences were allegedly committed when he held the city’s top job between 2010 and 2012.

The former chief executive is also accused of accepting an advantage – the redecoration and refurbishment of the three-storey penthouse – as a reward, and failing to disclose interior designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai’s involvement in the property while recommending him for nomination ­under the city’s honours system.

Before selecting the jurors – eight women and one man – High Court judge Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai laid out the particular circumstances of the case.

“You will almost certainly recognise the defendant in the dock. He is our former chief executive, and you might have heard something about the allegations in this case before us, from what you have seen and heard from the media or from friends,” he said.

While noting that in most cases, members of the jury would not have a clue about the identity of the defendant they would be trying, the judge said there were bound to be other cases “in the public eye”. “Clearly this is one such case,” Chan said.

Criminal case against former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang begins

It was not required that a juror be completely ignorant of the defendant’s identity, he added, urging the jury to focus solely on the evidence presented in court to avoid hearsay and prejudice.

“You must come to the case with a fresh and open mind so that you can decide the case ... with evidence only in the court room,” he said.

The potential witnesses on list also included both former and present staff of the Chief Executive’s Office and of various government departments, from the Civil Service Bureau to RTHK, as well as the Bank of East Asia.

Before the final nine jury members were chosen, the names of five others were picked, but they were excused due to conflicts of interest or appointments they had to keep. One was released after he revealed that he had worked with some government officials and was part of the Election Committee that will pick the next chief executive election in March.

The jury will be officially sworn in today when the trial resumes.