Former Tourism Board chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee gave verbal approval in 2004 for the authority's then executive director to obtain medical coverage for herself and her family, said Stanley Ko, former head of the board's staff and finance committee. Mr Ko's claim flies in the face of Mrs Chow's insistence that she has no recollection of giving verbal approval to Clara Chong Ming-wah for such a medical plan. The board extended staff medical coverage to family members of employees who joined before 1999. Ms Chong was appointed executive director in 2001. The board, which has long been an easy and highly public target for critics of its multimillion-dollar budget, is under scrutiny by members of the Legislative Council's Public Accounts Committee over an Audit Commission critical of its workings. 'In the negotiation for the contract renewal, Ms Chong made a request because her medical insurance plan did not cover her family members and she asked that her family be covered. The [chairwoman] and I agreed to that. We did not discuss the coverage or the content. Ms Chong requested that she be allowed to search for a plan for approval,' Mr Ko said. Facing frustrated lawmakers trying to get to the bottom of case, Mr Ko said he felt Ms Chong's request for medical coverage for herself and her family was reasonable since senior executives at any large organisation generally enjoyed family medical insurance benefits. The former chairwoman had also agreed, Mr Ko said. Ms Chong stated that she was cleared to seek such coverage and agreed to provide details of the plan for final approval. However, Mrs Chow again insisted she had never verbally approved such a plan. Mr Ko denied the board had failed to properly vet the medical insurance, and said Mrs Chow may have misunderstood the situation in agreeing to Ms Chong's request. He said talks between contract Mrs Chow and Ms Chong on renewing the executive director's contract had taken a long time, but he had attended only the first two or three sessions in January and February 2004. Mr Ko said concerns expressed at that time in an e-mail by board human resources chief Brenda Chan that such a medical plan might be difficult to justify and could raise credibility issues had not been made known to him and Mrs Chow until recently.