Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen has sparked another controversy over his conduct, with his office admitting that he stayed in a US$6,900 hotel presidential suite during an official visit to Brazil this month.
The one-night stay in Brazil's capital, Brasilia, was chosen by the Chief Executive's Office and paid by taxpayers, the office said last night.
'The so-called presidential suite is just a name, coming in different standards in different hotels,' a spokesman said. He said no rules governed the type of accommodation the Hong Kong chief executive could stay in during official trips.
The office said it was not the usual practice to consult Tsang (pictured) before booking any overseas accommodation. It did not say if it consulted him in this case.
The hotel, Royal Tulip Brasilia Alvorada, was centrally located in a safe area and was experienced in hosting state leaders, the spokesman said. 'Other suites in that hotel were too small to meet practical needs, such as holding internal meetings and receiving local representatives.'
The use of the 360-square-metre suite, with private access, a main living room, a balcony and a meeting room, avoided the need to rent a conference room in the hotel, he said.
But according to a government website, Tsang had met local representatives elsewhere in the city.
Premier Wen Jiabao, in his 2003 visit to Hong Kong during Sars, refused to stay in a presidential suite and chose a cheaper room in the Grand Hyatt hotel in Wan Chai.
Since April last year, Tsang has spent HK$4.2 million in nine official visits, excluding Brazil. He has been besieged by a series of conflict-of-interest rows since February over alleged favours from tycoon friends.
The spokesman said that at the next stop, in Sao Paulo, Tsang stayed at Renaissance Sao Paulo Hotel, paying US$1,250 for one night. The office opted for the second most expensive room, the Mayflower Suite, instead of the presidential suite.
Professor Ma Ngok, a political scientist at Chinese University, called the luxurious accommodation 'over the top'. 'He seems to be ignoring public opinion after all the controversies and in this sensitive period.'