In first full official response to report, chief secretary says no one is negligent Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said last night no one was negligent in the handling of the Sars outbreak last year, as he came to the defence of the top three officials criticised in the Legco inquiry report. It was the first full government response to the report, which had prompted the resignation of Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food Yeoh Eng-kiong on Wednesday and that of Hospital Authority chairman Leong Che-hung on Thursday. Mr Tsang was responding to a Legislative Council motion debate last night which endorsed the 434-page report of the select committee and condemned former director of health Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun. 'We can see that everyone in government, the Hospital Authority colleagues and the Department of Health did their level best. There is no evidence to show anyone was negligent,' Mr Tsang said. He said Dr Chan 'like everyone else did her level best'. 'Sars, of an unknown cause, spread very quickly. E.K. Yeoh took an active part in the actual operation of the Department of Health and the Hospital Authority,' Mr Tsang said. He described Dr Yeoh, Dr Chan and Dr Leong as 'courageous, persevering and dedicated professionals' - as were all health-care workers who fought the Sars battle. There were 33 votes for the motion endorsing the inquiry report and one abstention. The motion to condemn Dr Chan, who is now a senior official with the World Health Organisation, was carried with 35 votes for and one abstention. Independent legislator Ng Leung-sing was the lone abstainer on both motions. Former chairman of the Select Committee on the Sars inquiry, Democrat Law Chi-kwong, said the report was produced at the end of 94 meetings covering 449 hours and included 30 public hearings. Dr Law also hit out at the Hospital Authority's response, which questioned the validity of its findings in the absence of expert medical opinion. He said the select committee did not delve into clinical or medical matters, as its terms of reference were limited to administrative issues. The Liberal Party's Sophie Leung Lau Yau-fun, who was also the committee vice-chairman, wept when she said Dr Yeoh was 'a friend of mine for many years and I used to work with him in the Hospital Authority. But I do think his decision [to resign] is proper and correct'. Ms Leung, an authority board member from the 1980s to 2002, was chided by The Frontier legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing for being 'very emotional' because many of her friends had been criticised in the report. Ms Leung retorted: 'We should be emotional - 300 people died and many are still recovering.' Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa was said to have told leading academics at a meeting yesterday that Dr Yeoh offered to resign a long time ago, but Mr Tung did not believe it was required under the accountability system. 'He said there was no reason for [Dr Yeoh] to resign and risk damaging the public health system. But as the concept of accountability was political rather than from the angle of health care, he had no choice,' said an academic at the meeting. The Association of Hong Kong Nursing Staff yesterday said it welcomed the resignations of Dr Yeoh and Dr Leong.