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Donald Tsang

Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang faces loss of honours and benefits

The Hong Kong and British governments could strip former chief executive of his Grand Bauhinia and knighthood if he is given a significant prison term

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 8:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 11:36pm

A jail sentence would not only cause former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to lose his trademark bow tie, but leave his honours hanging in the balance, the Post has learned.

The decision on whether Tsang would be able to keep the city’s top honour bestowed on him for his contribution to society lies in the hands of the chief executive.

Tsang, 72, was found guilty of misconduct in public office last week. The former leader was awarded a Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2002. Britain knighted him just before the 1997 handover.

Commenting in general terms, the government’s Protocol Division, which determines the granting of honours, said it would consider revoking a medal or an honour if a holder acted in a way that raised questions. That included, it said, a jail sentence of a year or more, regardless of whether it was suspended.

“Every case has to be approved by the chief executive,” its spokesman said.

Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang faces strict regime if he is sent to Stanley Prison

The British government website said honours, including knighthoods, could be taken away from those “who have done something to damage the honours system’s reputation”.

Removal, called “forfeiture”, could arise from a jail sentence of more than three months. The Honours Forfeiture Committee makes the decision, the website said. The British prime minister would then send a recommendation to the queen for her final decision.

However, it is unlikely that Tsang, 72, would lose his government pension accumulated from 1967 to 2002 when he was a civil servant. It reportedly amounts to HK$80,000 a month.

The offence of which Tsang was convicted came after he stepped down as a civil servant to assume a ministerial role and later become chief executive.

Only those “convicted of an offence in connection with the public service” which is liable to lead to serious loss of confidence in the service would be deprived of their pension, according to the Pensions Ordinance.

As a former chief executive, Tsang also enjoys a wide range of benefits, including bodyguards, a chauffeur, private transport and medical care.

A spokesman for the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau said resources would be reallocated if a “certain former chief executive” was not performing his promotional and protocol-related functions for Hong Kong.