Tung's top aide resigns over Tokyo photos with female friend

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 January, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 January, 2005, 12:00am

The chief executive's top aide, Lam Woon-kwong, resigned last night after a magazine printed photographs of him at a Tokyo hotel with a female friend.

In a statement late last night, the director of the Chief Executive's Office, apologised to his colleagues for any inconvenience caused by his sudden resignation.

'In view of the media report on my private affairs, I tendered my resignation to the chief executive today. The chief executive has accepted my resignation which takes immediate effect,' Mr Lam said.

'I am honoured to have served the chief executive and the Special Administrative Region government. I am deeply indebted to the chief executive for his guidance and tolerance over the years.

The latest edition of Sudden Weekly, which hit the streets last night, carried photographs of Mr Lam, 53, with barrister and former journalist Po Wing-kay taken in the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo. The photographs accompanied a three-page article that included an interview with Mr Lam's wife of 28 years, Tonie Yuen.

It is not the first time Mr Lam and Ms Po have been photographed together. In 2002, they were snapped in a Central coffee shop during office hours. Questioned at the time, he told reporters he had taken an afternoon off and what he did in that time was his own business.

Mr Tung thanked Mr Lam for his work. 'I am very grateful for the contribution Mr Lam has made,' he said in a statement.

Observers said Mr Lam's resignation would further damage the government's image. Mr Lam had taken a low profile since becoming Mr Tung's chief of staff. Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat, a personal friend who spoke to Mr Lam before his resignation, said Mr Lam had long been unhappy in his work.

'In this critical moment during a governance crisis, he could take it no more and resigned ... It is sad that he chose to conceal the real reason of his resignation - which is his disillusionment with Tung.'

Mr Lee said Mr Lam had a disagreement with Mr Tung over the decision to bar Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou from visiting Hong Kong.

Mr Lam joined the civil service in August 1974 and has held various senior posts. He was secretary for the civil service, then secretary for home affairs before coming Mr Tung's chief of staff.