Home > HK
Tuesday, October 6, 2015, 08:12

Former CE charged over misconduct

By Shadow Li in Hong Kong
Former CE charged over misconduct
Donald Tsang (center) and his wife arrive at the Eastern Law Courts Building, Sai Wan Ho, Hong Kong, Oct 5, 2015. (Parker Zheng / China Daily)

Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen became Hong Kong’s highest-ever civil servant to face a criminal prosecution — as the city’s anti-corruption watchdog charged him with misconduct in public office on Monday. This is after an investigation lasting more than three years.

Tsang, 70, was accused of failing to declare to the Executive Council during his time as CE from November, 2010, to January, 2012 his negotiation with Wong Cho-bau, a major shareholder of the Digital Broadcasting Corporation, regarding the lease of a luxury penthouse in Shenzhen. ExCo was dealing with the broadcaster’s various license applications at that time.

Tsang also didn’t declare to the ExCo the 800,000 yuan ($126,000) he paid for the rent of the penthouse in November, 2010.

He also faced another charge of failing to disclose his interests in the lease of the penthouse and his relationship with Ho Chow-lai, the flat’s interior designer, when he nominated Ho for consideration under the SAR’s honors and awards system.

Tsang appeared in Eastern Magistrates’ Courts on Monday afternoon after being released by the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Leaving the court, Tsang said his conscience was clear and he was confident the courts would clear his name.

As Tsang got into a vehicle and waited, his wife Tsang Pau Siu-mei made an emotional statement outside the courthouse.

“We longed for peace and tranquility in retirement, away from politics. Instead, we now find ourselves dragged into a whirlpool. Beyond reason, over the past three and a half years we have been harassed daily,” she said.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung said the decision to press charges against Tsang was made after a thorough and careful consideration of the evidence, relevant laws and prosecution code.

Former CE charged over misconduct

Donald Tsang (center), former Chief Executive of Hong Kong talks to reporters with wife Selina by his side as they leave a magistrate's court in Hong Kong Oct 5, 2015. (AP Photo / Vincent Yu)

The arrest of Tsang came 10 months after his former deputy, the city’s former No 2 Rafael Hui Si-yan, was sentenced to seven and half years in prison for similar charges.

The maximum penalty available for offenses dealt with in the Magistrates’ Courts is two years’ imprisonment, while the High Court can hand out tougher sentences.

Misconduct in public office can incur a maximum prison term of seven years. The case is likely to be a jury trial.

Alain Sham Chung-ping, who successfully prosecuted Hui, said the prosecution will apply for the case to be tried in the High Court after considering several factors. These included the fact the accused held a position of high public status.

A total of 24 witnesses will be called by the prosecution to the stand to testify against Tsang, including 14 public officials, seven civilians and three ICAC officers.

Tsang, who was bailed for HK$100,000, will return to the court on Nov 13. He must report any change of address to the court. He must also give his itinerary to the ICAC in advance if he intends to leave the city for 24 hours or more. He was told not to directly or indirectly contact the witnesses.

Executive Councilor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said she felt ashamed that two high-ranking officials had now been indicted on graft charges. But she said this proved that Hong Kong valued its reputation for transparency and respect for the law. It also showed that no one, not even the CE, was above the law.

Latest News