COURTS

Yacht model gift to Rafael Hui was not made of real gold, graft trial hears

Presentthat former chief secretary Rafael Hui received from a top mainland official was only gold in colour, his ex-assistant tells graft trial

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 4:15am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 July, 2014, 4:41am

A "golden yacht model" that former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan received from a top Guangdong official wasn't real gold, Hui's one-time assistant told the Court of First Instance yesterday.

Adeline Wong Ching-man was being questioned by defence barrister Edwin Choy Wai-bond about gifts Hui received and trips he went on in his tenure as No2 official in the government.

"Gold in colour. Not real gold," Wong said of the model Hui received from an executive vice-governor of Guangdong province. She also said the numerous trips Hui went on were "duty trips" and not for leisure.

Wong was giving evidence at the top-level corruption trial in which Hui is accused of receiving tens of millions of dollars from the co-chairmen of Sun Hung Kai Properties to be the developer's "eyes and ears" in the government over the West Kowloon arts hub and Ma Wan projects.

Choy also referred to a trip to France that Cathay Pacific invited Hui to join for the delivery ceremony of its 100th aircraft.

He put it to Wong that the Economic Development and Labour Bureau had recommended that Hui accept the invitation to show the government's recognition for Cathay Pacific's contribution to Hong Kong's aviation industry and tourism.

Wong also elaborated yesterday on evidence she gave on Monday that it was "normal" for developers to meet officials, even high-ranking ones.

"When I was asked about whether it was usual for the chief secretary to meet developers yesterday, it appeared that there was an implied meaning," she said.

"The public … may think government officials should not meet developers. But in reality, developers are involved in many development projects so it was normal for officials, even high-ranking ones, to meet [them]."

Wong was responding to a question by Mr Justice Andrew Macrae about things she said yesterday and the day before which the judge said might appear to jurors to be different.

On Monday, lead prosecutor David Perry QC asked Wong if it was usual for the chief secretary to meet representatives of a developer. Wong said it was "normal". Yesterday, she said normally, private companies would not go directly to a high-level official such as the chief secretary, but would approach relevant bureaus when an issue arose. But if the problem could not be resolved, the companies would then approach senior officials.

Hui, 66, faces eight charges. SHKP co-chairman Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong, 62, faces three charges while his brother and co-chairman Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, 61, faces four.

SHKP executive director Thomas Chan Kui-yuen and former Hong Kong stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang each face two charges.

All have pleaded not guilty. The trial continues.