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Donald Tsang

How former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang went on a ‘remission of sin’ pilgrimage ahead of misconduct conviction

In article for local religious newspaper devout Catholic expresses hope Hongkongers can be “more tolerant and accommodating of each other”

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 March, 2017, 1:29pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 March, 2017, 5:07am

Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has said he ventured on a pilgrimage to local churches to seek forgiveness in the year leading up to his misconduct conviction.

In an article published in the Sunday Examiner titled “Mercy and Forgiveness”, the devout Catholic, who was last month sentenced to 20 months in prison, also expressed hope Hongkongers would be “more tolerant and accommodating of each other”.

The first chief executive ever convicted in a criminal trial, Tsang was found guilty of misconduct in public office for concealing his negotiations over a three-storey penthouse belonging to a company chaired by businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau, whose radio station licence application was approved by Tsang’s cabinet.

Tsang made no mention of the trial in the 900-word article. Instead, he wrote of how he and his wife, Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei, had visited seven churches including the cathedral in Caine Road named as “sites for special pilgrimage” by the Bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal John Tong Hon. He said the visits were part of efforts to obey Pope Francis’ call for “remission of sin” last year.

“For nearly the whole of 2016, the Catholic church throughout the world celebrated the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy instituted by Pope Francis in 2015 to promote a spirit of universal pardon in the world and remission of sins among the faithful,” Tsang wrote.

“I was familiar with several of these seven churches, but my wife Selina and I decided to revisit all of them during the year.”

Tsang, who was criticised in court for breaching the public’s trust, said he had taken time to review his relationship with people.

Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang appeals against misconduct conviction and jail sentence

“Without fail every such visit inspired me to reflect on myself and my relationship with the people of Hong Kong ... who I had served for 45 years, particularly on how mercifully we have treated each other,” he wrote.

Tsang said he had also visited churches and cathedrals on the mainland. While praising those in major cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, for being well preserved and impressive, he said “their interior is unfortunately sparse compared with their Western counterparts, because of civil wars and the Cultural Revolution when churches were ransacked”.

In contrast, he said Hong Kong’s appreciation for and conservation of old buildings showed its “durability and tolerance”.

“They may also inspire us to view matters and people with a much wider and more historical perspective, be more tolerant and accommodating of each other, or even more inclusive, forgiving and merciful in dealing with ourselves and neighbours,” he wrote.