The publishing in a newspaper of tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung's medical records last Tuesday could be an offence under Macau law, a lawyer there has said.
In a statement placed in major Hong Kong newspapers yesterday, Lau said he was "utterly shocked" at seeing a report on him issued by his doctor, Tai Yau-ting, in Apple Daily on April 30 that gave a detailed account of his medical state.
The newspaper published the report after Lau failed to show up at Macau's Court of First Instance the previous day to stand trial on bribery and money laundering charges, citing illness. Lau's lawyer submitted a medical report to the court, saying Lau was physically unfit to attend the trial.
Miguel de Senna Fernandes, a Macau lawyer, said the publication was a breach of Macau's personal data protection law and could be a criminal offence.
Lau's statement said the medical report that was published by Apple Daily was issued in 2008. But someone had concealed the date on the report before publication, he said.
He pledged to report the matter to the Privacy Commissioner and called on the Macau authorities to investigate the issue.
Fernandes said the disclosure of the report should not be an excuse for Lau to apply for a permanent stay of his trial.
Lau was seen going to Fook Lam Moon restaurant, known as "tycoons' canteen", in Wan Chai for lunch yesterday. He did not answer any questions.
Apple Daily's chief editor Cheung Kim-hung could not be contacted while Tai declined to comment.
An Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data spokeswoman said it would not comment on individual cases, but confirmed that medical records were classed as personal data under the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance.
It was an offence for someone to disclose any personal data without the consent of that person, but the media could be exempted in certain cases, she said.