Hong Kong’s Tsang Says to Address Integrity Doubts Tomorrow

Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang
Donald Tsang, chief executive of Hong Kong. Photographer: Jerome Favre/Bloomberg

Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang said he will address doubts about his travel and retirement plans when he meets lawmakers tomorrow, as public scrutiny of officials in the Chinese city grows.

“After 45 years of public service, I never expected that I would have to address questions about my integrity,” Tsang wrote in a letter to all members of the civil service. “I have learned a hard lesson, but I remain hopeful that something constructive will come out of it.”

Tsang, whose term ends June 30, has been criticized by lawmakers for accepting trips to Macau and Phuket, Thailand, on yachts and jets owned by businessmen. Lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun is seeking support to submit a motion to charge the chief executive with dereliction of duty for failing to declare a plan to rent a penthouse in Shenzhen, China.

“A lot of my colleagues are holding their fire pending the chief executive’s appearance tomorrow to answer questions from us,” Tse said by phone today. “Hopefully after the session, we’ll be able to collect more signatures.”

Tsang, who announced the formation of an independent committee to review rules governing civil servants, has said he paid for his trips.

Hong Kong’s anti-corruption body will investigate Tsang’s conduct after receiving complaints from political parties, the South China Morning Post reported today, citing Avery Ng Man-yuen, the vice-chairman of the League of Social Democrats.

Corruption Probe

“We will not comment on individual cases,” Alan Tse, a spokesman for the Independent Commission Against Corruption said today. “It is the ICAC’s statutory duty to investigate all pursuable corruption reports.”

Public scrutiny of government officials increased after Henry Tang, the front-runner to replace Tsang, was embroiled in a scandal in the election campaign. Tang, the city’s former No. 2 official, faces calls to quit the race after admitting knowledge of a basement built illegally by his wife.

Tsang paid HK$500 ($65) for a ride on a yacht, Charles Ho, chairman of Sing Tao News Corp., told reporters on Feb. 27.

“It’s like giving a lift to someone,” Ho said. “What’s wrong with that?”

Tse said he has the support of two lawmakers to move his motion against the chief executive. Lawmaker Regina Ip said today she withdrew her support after hearing of the ICAC probe.

Tsang is renting a penthouse at a property built by a company controlled by Wong Cho-bau, the Standard reported today. Wong is also an investor in Digital Broadcasting Corp., which was recently granted a broadcasting license in Hong Kong, the newspaper said.

At least 15 lawmakers are needed to submit a motion to charge the chief executive with breach of law or dereliction of duty, according to the city’s laws.

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