Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was visibly annoyed when he was forced to defend his integrity following claims he had attended a pro-democracy concert at the Happy Valley racecourse in 1989. 'Facts speak louder than words. I don't want to dwell on accusations which are groundless, unwarranted and mo lei tau [nonsense]. It's almost 40 years since I joined the public service. I have always attached great importance to personal conduct and integrity,' he said. Mr Tsang's comments, his second in three days on the matter, came after a Civic Party legislator challenged his initial denial that he had been at the event. The claim was first made by veteran activist Szeto Wah, who told a radio programme he recalled meeting Mr Tsang, then the director of administration, and his son in the early afternoon at the event. Mr Szeto said he clearly remembered Mr Tsang telling him he had taken his son to the concert on May 27, 1989, a few days before the crackdown on student protesters in Tiananmen Square. The chief executive's information co-ordinator, Andy Ho On-tat, said Mr Tsang had gone to the Jockey Club with his son for dinner that night and had bumped into Mr Szeto outside the restaurant. Legislator Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung then revealed that a Civic Party supporter who had been a volunteer at the 1989 concert had told him Mr Tsang and his son had spent nearly an hour at the event and that he had served him water. Dr Cheung said the man's recollections raised questions about the chief executive's integrity. Barring the discovery of hard evidence that Mr Tsang attended the concert, the controversy is over. But an opinion poll shows people are sharply divided over the trustworthiness of the pair. Thirty-six per cent of respondents believed Mr Szeto was telling the truth and 31 per cent backed Mr Tsang, while 18 per cent said neither was trustworthy. It looks unlikely that the whole truth will come to light, given that the episode happened 17 years ago. Still, it is understandable doubters may feel Mr Tsang has been economical with the truth. For unknown reasons, he has apparently decided not to elaborate on his appearance at the racecourse. Underlying his robust denial and reticence over details of the episode is a feeling of insecurity and unease about wading into the sensitive area of June 4. Speaking on the anniversary of the crackdown, Mr Tsang emphasised China's tremendous economic growth since 1989. 'These achievements have also brought prosperity and economic benefits to Hong Kong and allow us to reflect on the incident objectively,' he said. He did not directly comment on the fate of the student-led movement in Beijing. On Tuesday, Mr Tsang said the claim that he had been at the concert was being treated as an accusation - as if it was wrong for anyone to have attended the event. The truth is that people from all walks of life and of diverse political views expressed sympathy and support for the cause of the Beijing students and hoped China would become democratic and more open - with rule of law, a free press and curbs on corruption. Pro-Beijing leaders and groups have never denied their participation in local rallies in support of the student movement in Beijing in 1989. A former senior official has recalled civil servants felt the same way as others at the time. 'The rules [barring senior officials from taking part in political activities] are clear. But who'd bother to find out whether any of us attended the concert? Events were very unsettling at that time,' he said. As a senior civil servant, Mr Tsang would have known he was not allowed to participate in the pro-democracy event. It is not surprising that, as an ordinary citizen, he might have felt as strongly as others about the dramatic developments in Beijing. No one who watched the sad turn of events unfold and took part in the 1989 rallies to express their passion, anger and despair should look back with regret. They should feel proud to have acted on their consciences and from a sense of history and nationhood. All who lived through the turbulence of June 4 should feel strongly the need to remain true to themselves and to history.