A Legislative Council committee yesterday called the attitude of Equal Opportunities Commission members, including its chairman Raymond Tang Yee-bong, 'appalling', and its attitude to the use of public funds 'totally unacceptable'. The remarks come after the publication of a damning Director of Audit report in April, and another four public hearings aimed at clarifying observations made by the Director of Audit. Public Accounts Committee chairman Philip Wong Yu-hong said the audit report had revealed that serious underlying problems existed in the EOC, and picked out its corporate culture, spending, purchasing and management of stores as being fraught with problems. The EOC's controversial handling of the publication of the audit itself was also criticised. 'We find it appalling, as revealed by their exchange of views at the board meeting on [March 26], that the chairperson, certain board members and the director (planning and administration) of the EOC considered some of the audit findings trivial and insignificant and, in considering the EOC's response to the audit findings, their concern was more from the public relations perspective, leaving one with the impression that they were not serious in accepting the audit findings as genuine problems which needed to be addressed.' The strongly worded committee report yesterday sparked an apology from Mr Tang for any adverse effect it might have on an EOC that is already struggling to win over a sceptical public: 'I accept the responsibility for the inadequacies identified in the report and willingly apologise for the adverse effect on the EOC which has arisen as a result of it.' The April audit brought Mr Tang under considerable scrutiny and singled out a 2005 dinner for 28 people in Beijing that cost HK$15,200, for which there was no attendance record. Between 2005 and 2007, the EOC spent HK$78,000 on 32 air purifiers, even though a building-management report found the air quality in its offices to be mostly excellent, the report noted. Those revelations prompted the Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Bureau to accelerate restructuring of the EOC. 'The administration has suggested the EOC retain the full-time executive chairperson position, and delineate part of the chairperson's functions to a new post of chief operations officer,' a government spokesman said. 'This new position will oversee administrative and operational matters and strengthen governance of the EOC.' Mr Wong said the EOC had neglected the moderate and conservative principle of using public funds and its activities 'evidently indicate a manifest lack of prudence on the part of the EOC in this regard'. However, he said the committee stopped short of using the word 'condemn' because Mr Tang had accepted criticism. The Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor yesterday urged Mr Tang to resign, or board members to force his resignation.