Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang lodges final appeal against misconduct conviction
Move comes after he is discharged from Queen Mary Hospital in handcuffs and sent back to Stanley Prison
Jailed former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is making a last attempt to clear his name, but will not apply for bail while he pursues a final appeal against his conviction for misconduct in public office.
A source close to the matter revealed on Friday that the appeal had been filed, as the 73-year-old former chief executive was discharged from hospital, where he had spent a week after being jailed again following the rejection of an earlier appeal by a lower court.
The Department of Justice confirmed that Tsang had applied to take his case to the Court of Final Appeal.
In a further reflection of his fall from grace, Tsang was filmed and photographed by the media sitting in a wheelchair, wearing handcuffs and prison garb, as he was transferred from the custodial ward at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam to Stanley Prison.
He was hospitalised after suffering an asthma attack following the rejection of his case by the Court of Appeal last Friday.
The former leader’s conviction centred on a conflict of interest involving a three-storey luxury penthouse in the fashionable district of Futian in Shenzhen in mainland China.
Tsang, who served as chief executive from 2005 to 2012, had planned to make the penthouse his temporary retirement home. He began negotiations to rent the property, which belonged to a company chaired by mainland businessman Bill Wong Cho-bau, at a time when Tsang was in charge of approving licence applications from radio station Wave Media, of which Wong was a majority shareholder.
He was found guilty of misconduct by an 8-1 jury verdict in February last year for failing to disclose the penthouse deal.
While Tsang argued there was nothing corrupt about his conduct, the appeal justices ruled he was still criminally liable for deliberately keeping it quiet. However, they reduced his original 20-month jail sentence to 12 months, of which he has already served two.
“A high-ranking government official who deliberately conceals a conflict of interest must know, with respect, what he is doing, and that what he is doing is wrong,” Justice Andrew Macrae wrote in a 95-page ruling handed down last week.
The judge said the evidence was “as formidable as it was compelling”, adding: “These are frankly obvious consequences which [Tsang], of all people at the very top of the government administration, after decades in public service, would have readily and instinctively understood.”
While out on bail earlier pending his appeal hearing, Tsang re-emerged on the fringes of the city’s political scene, weighing in on Hong Kong-mainland relations in television interviews and in articles written for the Post.
He even turned up alongside his predecessors Tung Chee-hwa and Leung Chun-ying, and their successor, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, at the annual flag-raising ceremony on July 1 to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese rule.
Lam on Friday was asked during her official trip to Beijing whether she felt sorry for Tsang, her former boss and a devout Catholic.
“As I have said previously and a long time ago, I will keep praying for him,” replied the chief executive, a Catholic herself.