Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen says he was deeply offended 'as a religious man' by aggressive questioning from People Power lawmaker Wong Yuk-man in Legco last week.
In an interview with the South China Morning Post this week, Tsang also talked of the role his Catholic faith has played in his governing, and described Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun as his superior on religious issues, though they held different views on policies.
Tsang was asked if he was concerned about the verbal barrage he encountered in a question-and-answer session in the Legislative Council. 'Very concerned,' he replied. 'I felt sad. I felt frustrated.'
He added: 'I was very frustrated, particularly how the question was put to me in a rude way, implying I was engaging in incest. This is totally unprovoked ... as a religious man, I found this an enormous offence.'
It was the first time the chief executive had reviewed in detail the furious exchange with Wong, who said Tsang had committed 'political incest' by appointing the unpopular Stephen Lam Sui-lung chief secretary. An angry Tsang accused Wong of 'thug-like' behaviour and told him there was no place for 'triad societies' in the legislature.
In the interview, Tsang also said he had a 'lot of respect' for Zen, who today ends a three-day hunger strike in protest at a court ruling that ends the Catholic diocese's full control over its schools.
'In the religious sense, yes, absolutely superior over me. He can tell me to do whatever in terms of my faith,' Tsang said. 'In terms of policy, I disagree with him in the way he attacks education policy.'
Nonetheless, Tsang said he respected Zen as a 'sincere man'.
Tsang said he could not separate his religious faith from his work as chief executive. 'It is part of my conscience. I find moral solace in going to church every day because I need some spiritual reconciliation as a resolve ... but whatever I do, I will not allow it to get in the way of the operation of the law.'
He said his policies during his six years in the job had been consistent with both his faith and the law.
His faith had helped him maintain a friendship with long-term political rival Martin Lee Chu-ming. the Democratic Party founding chairman. 'Martin Lee is one of my good friends. We go to the same church, his son is my godson and my son is his godson. But politically, we are light years apart.'
Tsang declined to comment on the multimillion-dollar donations of media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying to pan-democratic parties and Zen, leaked to media this week, saying he did not have the full details. He said the government would keep an open mind about legislating to require parties to disclose political donations.