Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa's $627,000 donation to the Conservative Party has prompted much criticism recently but Hong Kong Chinese donations to the Tories before the 1992 elections were never a secret - back in 1993, there was already a major political row in Britain over them. Reportedly in the British media, a number of Hong Kong business heavyweights contributed to the ruling party, including Li Ka-shing - who offered GBP500,000 (about HK$6.3 million) and entertained Prime Minister John Major during his brief visit to the territory in September 1991. Pro-China businessman Tsui Tsin-tong was also reported to have contributed GBP50,000 and other large donors were said to be daughters of the late Sir Y K Pao and flamboyant businessman David Tang. Compared with Mr Li, Mr Tung was not exceptionally generous to the Tories. So why should his actions be questioned? Until the July 1 handover, Hong Kong remains part of British territory and any Hong Kong Chinese contributing to the Tories or the Labour Party before next month's much-hyped general election should not be accused of trying to exert foreign influence on British politics. After all, many of them are British subjects, even if they do not hold a foreign passport. But what is interesting about Mr Tung's donation is not his admission of having made it, it is rather his subsequent remark in which he said that it is precisely because of what he did that he was 'particularly sensitive that this should not happen in Hong Kong'. In saying so, Mr Tung obviously took his donation to the Tories as tantamount to an 'alien' contribution. In that case, it would be interesting to know what Mr Tung learned from that gesture that made him think it is so wrong that Hong Kong should not be allowed to accept foreign donations. Unfortunately Mr Tung has not elaborated on his reasons for making the donation, nor has the media present at the press conference he chaired followed up on his comments. Back in 1993, Lord McAlpine, Conservative Party treasurer from 1975-92 said that Hong Kong businessmen donated to the Tories 'because they hate the Labour Party'. On the other hand, it was also reported that there was no suggestion that the Hong Kong donations influenced government policy towards Hong Kong or China. If it was true that the donations had no impact whatsoever on British policy, then it is only logical that Hong Kong people today should query why Mr Tung believes such donations should be banned. But if the contribution did influence British policies and was meant to influence British politics, then Hong Kong people are more likely to join politicians such as Emily Lau Wai-hing and Cheung Man-kwong in questioning why Mr Tung should adopt such double standards on the issue. Algy Cluff, the former chief Hong Kong fund-raiser for the Conservative Party, said in 1993 that GBP20,000 would be the average donation from Hong Kong businessmen. If that is true, then Mr Tung's donation to the Tories was not a small amount. If Mr Tung could be more open about his political donations, including how often he has contributed to the Tories and whether he has offered donations to other political parties - whether they be the Democratic Party or the Republicans in the United States - perhaps the community could better understand his position against 'alien' donations. This would probably improve his chances of persuading those concerned about his decision that it was made for the greater good of Hong Kong.