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Donald Tsang

Donald Tsang’s wife led revamp of ‘naughty’ clubhouse, Hong Kong court hears

Designer recalls how the former chief executive’s wife oversaw renovation and wanted to create a home where her husband ‘could have a good rest’

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2017, 8:57pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 October, 2017, 10:24pm

A designer told the High Court on Wednesday how he acted on the instructions of Donald Tsang Yam-kuen’s wife to turn what looked like a mainland-style “naughty” clubhouse into their temporary retirement home in Shenzhen.

Barrie Ho Chow-lai – having worked on the 6,700 sq ft penthouse with Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei between 2011 and 2012 – also shared a rare glimpse of the woman who has accompanied her husband to court every day.

“The impression that Mrs Tsang gave me was that she is quite an introverted person,” he said. “She was also a caring person, and she was very good at taking care of her husband and family.”

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Ho described her as someone who had a lot of feelings but was not good at expressing them.

“She very much wanted to run her family in a good way so that her husband, who had been in public office for 40 years, could have a good rest.”

He said he dealt mainly with Mrs Tsang while working on the property and over a series of 14 meetings she had asked only for a simple design rather than anything luxurious.

Prosecutors allege that Donald Tsang accepted renovation work costing at least HK$3.8 million in return for being “favourably disposed” to a local radio station whose majority shareholder, businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau, owned the East Pacific Garden property and picked up the bill.

Tsang, 72, has denied one count of accepting an advantage as the chief executive between 2010 and 2012.

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The court heard that Ho was paid HK$350,000 for the renovation in two cheques signed off by Wong through his company, East Pacific Holdings.

Ho began work in February 2011 and he recalled being told it used to be an old clubhouse. He said it was unhygienic and consisted of suites and showers.

He recalled being told by a woman on the site that it used to serve as entertainment premises where people could have dinner, enjoy karaoke, and stay overnight.

“Even if I was allowed to live in there, I would not do so,” he said.

Defending counsel Selwyn Yu SC then said to Ho: “I am tempted to suggest to you that it was a sort of naughty clubhouse.”

The lawyer added that it was not the kind of place where you would take your their wife and children. Ho agreed.

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It also had a pool, though it was too small for swimming. Ho likened it to the old Chinese saying of “a pool full of wine and a forest full of meat”.

During the last site inspection in January 2012, he recalled how Selina Tsang even brought along a feng shui master. But work was suspended shortly afterwards in light of media scrutiny on the chief executive.

The trial continues before Mr Justice Andrew Chan Hing-wai.