Donald Tsang

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

Former chief executive will be confined to small cell and carry out menial work for HK$23 a week; he is also likely to meet up with his former chief secretary Rafael Hui

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2017, 11:16pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2017, 10:33pm

Disgraced former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen faces the music on Wednesday morning when a judge hands down his sentence for one count of misconduct in public office.

If he does go to jail, he might well be reunited with his former right-hand man, former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan.

A prison insider told the Post that Tsang would probably be sent to Stanley – one of the six maximum security prisons housing high-security risk inmates and those requesting protection, like Hui.

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He will probably also be the first knighted prisoner to serve time in Stanley in the post-handover period.

And the man who led the city for seven years and made HK$371,000 a month may find himself earning HK$23 a week doing laundry and making envelopes for the government departments he once headed.

Like all other inmates, Tsang will have to wear brown prison garb. Others aspects of prison life might take some getting used to, a source said. “He will be provided with one roll of toilet paper every three weeks like everyone else.”

“He will be required to wake up at 6.30am, work and go to bed at 10pm.”

If the former chief executive asks for a single cell and special protection, like Hui and other prominent inmates, Tsang’s room will be just 80.7 square feet with a plastic bed, a plastic desk attached to a wall, a plastic chair and a private sink and toilet made of stainless steel.

Under prison rules, all prisoners are required to work for not more than 10 hours a day to reduce the risk of unrest due to boredom. But they may be excused from work on medical grounds.

Work ranges from making clothes and leather work to making traffic signs, slabs and kerbs for highways and infrastructure projects and doing simple manual work like providing laundry services for the Hospital Authority and doing printing work for government departments.

“Given Tsang’s health condition and age, maybe he only has to do easy work like binding books for public libraries and making envelopes,” the insider said.

“Each inmate can use his or her earnings from work in the prison to purchase approved items such as tissues or other daily consumable items twice a month.”

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But he won’t even be making the minimum wage as an inmate only earns HK$23 to HK$192 a week, depending on the type of work, the technical requirements of each position and the work environment.

Then security minister Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong told the Legislative Council in 2012: “Given all basic necessities of inmates are provided by the government and prices of approved daily consumable items and snacks are set with reference to inmates’ purchasing power, there is no question of the level of inmates’ earnings being too low to meet their basic living needs.”

Inmates who are unable to work for health reasons may receive a basic HK$23 a week.

Controversial businessman Lew Mon-hung, who was convicted for sending letters and emails to the chief executive and the city’s top graft-buster in a bid to stop an investigation in which he was involved, and “feng shui master” Peter Chan Chun-chuen, who was convicted for forging billionaire Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum’s will to claim her fortune, are currently serving their sentences with Hui in Stanley.

The prison insider said they had to follow a strict daily routine – lunch at noon, dinner at 4.30pm and one hour of free time each day in the yard.

The big guns, who were used to high-end cuisine from every corner of the world, get four meals a day – from breakfast to a late night snack – and are served basic food like plain rice and vegetables.

Living behind bars does not mean a complete loss of contact with the outside world as inmates can still access information through television and radio stations.

Generally, the prison authorities provide television sets in dining halls and day rooms and allow inmates to have their own radio set of a specified model.

Newspapers and library books are available. Prisoners can send and receive an unrestricted number of letters. Catholics like Tsang and Hui can participate in religious services and ask to read the Bible.

Relatives and friends can visit a convicted person in custody twice a month. Each visit lasts no longer than 30 minutes. No more than three visitors, including infants and children, are allowed at one time.

On admission, all persons in custody are required to declare the name and relationship of their visitors. They may later add new visitors to the list or remove existing ones subject to prison approval.

Visitors can give an unlimited number of religious books and up to six magazines or other reading material to a prisoner each month.

Music lovers like Hui can receive a guitar from visitors, but it must be wooden, non-electric and with nylon strings and must be approved by the authorities.

Whether Tsang will end up ­listening to Hui’s music is ­anyone’s guess.


June 2016 So Ping-chi

Former deputy director of marine So Ping-chi was found guilty on June 7 of one count of misconduct in public office for ordering staff to ignore a law on the number of life jackets that vessels must carry before the deadly Lamma ferry disaster. He was jailed for 16 months.

December 2014, Rafael Hui Si-yan

Former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan was found guilty of five out of eight counts, including misconduct in public office and bribery, for taking almost HK$20 million in bribes to be favourably disposed to Sun Hung Kai Properties. He was jailed for 71/ 2 years.

April 2012, John Wong

John Wong, former head of surgery at the University of Hong Kong, was convicted of two charges each of misconduct and false accounting involving more than HK$3 million. He was handed a community service order of 240 hours.

September 2009, Lam Shiu-kum

Lam Shiu-kum, former dean of the University of Hong Kong’s medical school, was convicted of misconduct in public office for inducing patients to make donations and payments of almost HK$4 million to his company. He was released after serving 11 months of a 25-month sentence.

May 2008, Anthony Lam Wing-hong

Former deputy privacy commissioner Anthony Lam Wing-hong was convicted of three charges of using documents to deceive his principal and one count of misconduct in public office for fraudulently pocketing HK$108,926 from the public purse. He was jailed for nine months.

December 2001, Gary Cheng Kai-nam

Gary Cheng Kai-nam, former lawmaker and Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong vice-chairman, was convicted of misconduct in public office, accepting an advantage as a public servant, theft and false accounting. He spoke in favour of the Sports Development Board in Legco meetings without disclosing the fact he was paid by the board as a public relations consultant. He was jailed for 18 months but was released after serving two-thirds of his sentence.