Democrats want the commerce chief to apologise for 'misleading' the public Facts had been twisted by the government to reject accusations of collusion with the business sector on the Cyberport project, Democratic Party legislators claimed yesterday. They demanded that Secretary for Commerce, Industry and Technology John Tsang Chun-wah apologise for presenting what they said was inaccurate information to the public, or resign if he had deliberately misled people. Mr Tsang and Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen would be invited to a special meeting of the Legco panel on information technology next week, panel chairman Sin Chung-kai said. The legislators also called for the release of documents produced on the project before it was announced in the 1999 budget, to help explain why the government did not put it up for open tender. Their criticisms came a day after the commerce minister defended the government's handling of the project in a lengthy article published in major Hong Kong newspapers. In it, he denied that awarding the project without tender to a company owned by Richard Li Tzar-kai, the youngest son of tycoon Li Ka-shing, represented a transfer of benefits from the government to the business sector. Mr Sin said: 'The article twisted the reality and misled the public.' Accusing the minister of 'putting words in our mouths', he said the Legislative Council had never formed a unified view on the project, nor did legislators have the right to reject it. He said the minister had claimed in the article that Legco had 'considered and rejected' a proposal by the real estate sector to separate the property development and the technology part of the Cyberport project. Mr Sin said: 'We didn't have the right to reject the project. The $1.1 billion approved by the Finance Committee [between May 1999 and December 2000] was used for building roads and drains.' Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat said he would give the commerce minister up to two days to back up his claims. 'He wants to pre-empt the debate [on government-business collusion], but in fact he has fanned the fire.' The call for more information was supported by Ronny Tong Ka-wah of the Article 45 Concern Group. Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong chairman Ma Lik said releasing more information could clear up doubts. Despite the criticism, Mr Tsang insisted yesterday the project had gained Legco's support. 'They passed the financing of it. To me that implies approval.' Director of Audit Benjamin Tang Kwok-bun said his office would look at the case to see if any follow-up action was needed.