Donald Tsang

Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang back in the public eye at charity event, also starts newspaper column

He will stand trial for corruption charges in January, and has kept a low public profile till now

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 November, 2016, 11:47pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 November, 2016, 11:53pm

The city’s former leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who is facing a criminal trial, made a rare public appearance on Saturday to celebrate the achievements of a charity he helped set up.

Tsang attended an event held by the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association. His former subordinate and chief executive hopeful John Tsang Chun-wah was also among the attendees, but the two did not meet as they were present at different times.

“I am glad to see the association has helped 500,000 people in the past 20 years,” said the former chief executive, who helped set up the charity to provide round-the-clock emergency service to the elderly in 1996 when he was financial secretary.

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He did not respond to media questions about whether he supported the current financial secretary in running for the top job. John Tsang also left earlier without making comments.

The former leader has not appeared in other public functions for months since he was prosecuted, apart from attending court hearings and official events such as Hong Kong’s handover anniversary and the commemoration of the anniversary of Sun Yat-sen’s birthday yesterday morning.

He is facing a trial by jury in January. Three charges are laid against him, comprising two counts of misconduct in public office and one count of “accepting an advantage” as chief executive.

The case centres on his alleged dealings with Bill Wong Cho-bau, a major shareholder of then radio station Wave Media, and interior designer Barrie Ho Chow-lai, over a Shenzhen penthouse between 2010 and 2012.

Prior to his public appearance on Saturday, Donald Tsang had started a weekly column in Chinese-language newspaper AM730 last week. In his debut article, Tsang shared his experience in political reform, recalling how he managed to add five directly elected seats in the 2012 Legislative Council elections.

“We had extraordinarily strong patience and sincerity in forging consensus,” he wrote. “There was a major party willing to negotiate with flexibility. And there was indispensible mutual trust.”

Looking forward, he said mutual trust between political parties, and between them and Beijing, was necessary for breaking the reform deadlock, but he was “worried” about the prospect.

Meanwhile, former Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, referring to Beijing’s ruling on the oath-taking controversy, told reporters after a radio show on Saturday it would be “unreasonable” to think the president alone had the power to disqualify a lawmaker as there were procedures to follow.

The National People’s Congress Standing Committee now requires a lawmaker to take the oath “sincerely”, in a bid to keep pro-independence voices out of the legislature. It also says the oath administrator should disqualify those failing to do so, but it does not say whether the court can overturn the decision.