Hong Kong's chief executive and top health officials came under fire yesterday for their silence during Monday's World Aids Day after Premier Wen Jiabao grabbed the headlines by shaking hands with Aids patients at a Beijing hospital. Critics said Tung Chee-hwa could have seized the opportunity to make 'a Princess Diana-style' gesture, while Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong and Director of Health Lam Ping-yan were criticised for being absent from World Aids Day activities. 'K.K.', a 55-year-old married man with HIV, said: 'It would have been good if Tung Chee-hwa imitated Premier Wen. It would have been better than nothing.' He said he would welcome top leaders making such gestures as they would encourage other officials to promote care of HIV and Aids patients. In contrast, Mr Wen shook hands with an Aids patient during a visit to Beijing's Ditan Hospital on World Aids Day. The event was hailed as a turning point in the nation's battle against the disease. It was the first time a Chinese premier had publicly touched an Aids patient, Xinhua said, describing it as a 'milestone event'. It was witnessed by a hundred million viewers on CCTV, which devoted much broadcast time to the visit, including several close-up shots of the handshake. Pictures of Mr Wen shaking hands with the patient were splashed across the front pages of mainland newspapers yesterday. The legislator for the medical sector, Lo Wing-lok, said the gesture showed Mr Wen cared about people with HIV, just as the late Princess Diana did when she hugged Aids sufferers. 'It also showed he is very knowledgeable and realises that casual contact ... will not transmit HIV.' Elijah Fung, manager of the St John's Cathedral HIV-Education Centre, said: 'That is something [Mr Tung] has to do for Hong Kong. Unlike on the mainland, in our society there is still a lot of discrimination because no government official has visited people with HIV and Aids.' Graham Smith, chief executive of Aids Concern, said: 'It would be great if Mr Tung did something like that. That is exactly the kind of leadership that people with Aids need. This should be done regardless of whether a city has low or high prevalence of HIV/Aids.' A spokesman for the chief executive, who left for Beijing last night, said Mr Tung was not able to take part in World Aids Day activities due to a busy schedule. The chief executive has been patron of the Hong Kong Aids Foundation and the Community Charter on Aids since 1997. The foundation's deputy chief executive, William Kam Hing-fat, said Mr Tung's role as patron was to write a message for the foundation's annual report, due out on December 16. Dr Yeoh's press secretary, Brenda Lee, said the minister was 'personally very much concerned with policies to prevent and treat Aids'. She said he had discussed 'the policy and programmes on Aids' with the director of health on Monday, but did not participate in World Aids Day activities 'because of heavy commitments'. A spokesman for the director of health said Dr Lam could not attend the activities because he had 'five major meetings to attend throughout the day'.