Tsang in post-public office syndrome, says Ip

Top News | Jane Cheung 23 Jul 2018

Donald Tsang Yam-kuen suffered from "post-public office syndrome" - wanting to receive the same treatment he had enjoyed even after retirement - Executive Council member Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee said.

The former security chief recalled one of her meetings with Tsang at Government House in 2010, during which he said he was worried about his own housing issue after stepping down, seemingly unhappy that he could not continue his comfortable lifestyle.

"At the end of his term, he had to move out of Government House, which meant a significant step back in his living standard," Ip wrote of Tsang's downfall on her Facebook page on the weekend.

She said although Tsang only received an annual salary of HK$4 million as chief executive, he was accorded all kinds of perks and privileges, including the luxurious Government House with housekeepers and helpers, as well as chauffeurs and secretaries serving him around the clock.

"How can he accept an ordinary life after living a luxurious style for years?" Ip said. She added that returning to a lifestyle that is only slightly better than middle-class, is a major challenge for some officials. "Some of my seniors, including former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan, failed to overcome such challenges."

Ip said she reminded Tsang that he owned an apartment on MacDonnell Road in Mid-Levels, but he gave her a disdainful look. She said Tsang said he had too much stuff to move away from Government House, to which she suggested he buy a unit in an industrial building for storage, like she did. That earned her another disdainful look from Tsang.

"He ended in deep water by linking up with Bill Wong Chau-bau, probably because he couldn't think out of his post-CE syndrome," Ip said.

Tsang rented a penthouse in Shenzhen from Wong that led to his downfall.

Ip said she had known Tsang since she joined the government in 1975, and the two of them became close after working on the same team. She added that Tsang often invited her and other colleagues to dinner at his home. "But I saw his personality change as he climbed to higher positions," she said. "People flattered and fawned over him as he grew to possess more power, and he started maintaining close relationships with high business circle."

Tsang remains in the custodial ward of Queen Mary Hospital after losing his appeal against public misconduct on Friday. Hong Kong Catholic Diocese Reverend Dominic Chan Chi-ming visited him for the second day yesterday, saying he appeared much calmer and started eating again.

Tsang took ill after attending the hearing announcing his appeal results, and was taken to hospital by ambulance.

The disgraced 73-year-old was convicted in February 2017 on one count of misconduct in public office in connection with the license application of Wave Media - subsequently renamed Digital Broadcasting Corp - at a time when Tsang was chief executive and head of the Executive Council - for failing to disclose his dealings with Wong, a major shareholder of the broadcaster.

Tsang was jailed for 20 months, but granted bail of HK$100,000 to appeal, after serving two months. He sought to appeal against his conviction and sentence, and against the HK$5 million legal bill.

On Friday, the Court of Appeal vice presidents Wally Yeung Chun-kuen and Andrew Macrae, and Appeal Judge Derek Pang Wai-cheong dismissed his appeal against the conviction.

Macrae said Tsang did not disclose his conflict of interest to Exco while processing Wave Media's license application.

He said not only did Tsang not publicize his deal with Wong, but he also intentionally concealed their relationship.

But the Appeal Court ruled the trial judge's starting point of 30 months imprisonment was too high, and agreed to set the starting point at 18 months. And after considering his good conduct and previous contribution to Hong Kong, the appeal judges knocked off reduced the jail term to 12 months. Tsang's legal bill was also slashed to HK$1 million.

After the ruling was read out, Tsang's lawyer Selwyn Yu Sing-cheung, SC, wanted to apply for another leave to appeal to the Court of Final Appeal, but Justice Macrae dismissed his application and asked him to make the decision after reading the 95-page judgment.

Outside court, Tsang's wife, Selina Tsang Pau Siu-mei said she was disappointed with the ruling.

jane.cheung@singtaonewscorp.com

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