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Beijing gives Tsang a slap in the face Tsang’s Beijing slap in face

Mickey Mao

So when Tsang is charged by ICAC with misconduct in public office will Beijing be offering any bouquets? Likewise Henry Tang. Both abused their positions whilst in public office. Tang prima facie also cheated the Rating and Valuation Department out of rates for years – that’s fraud isn’t it? He ‘handed over ’house 7 (the basementgate house) to his wife – yet the Government rates bill still jointly covers both house 5A and 7 York Road – he missed that one.
Why did Tsang do nothing about the Environment – is HK Mayor CY Leung’s offering an office manager job to Edward Yau a sign that Yau has ‘sold the ranch’ on who was guilty of environmental prevarication for 5 years? There can be no other reason for employing the former environment minister with the worst failed portfolio.
And the belching diesel old Euro II buses – why was nothing done when Clean Air Zones in the worst polluted areas could have been mandated? Would that be anything to do with the fact retired Chief Secretary Rafael Hui reportedly sat on the board of KMB and retired Commissioner of Police , Tsang’s brother Tsang Yam Pui, sits on the board of Citybus and New World First Bus? The cost per head for a commercially lease-able 8 seat private jet to Phuket is US$ 11,800 – so Tsang was with his wife and everyone forgets the police minder who accompanied him everywhere – that’s US$ 35,000 and Tsang told everyone he paid for TWO Dragonair economy tickets (HKD 2900 per head) to the jet owner – I wonder who paid the hotel rooms including his police minder? – as can be seen from his abuse of public funds on overseas trips Tsang likes his US$ 8,000 a night rooms in Brazil and Washington whilst as a city mayor he earned far more than Barack Obama. This Tsang admission however leaves the jet owner with a problem since he does not have a commercial aircraft licence like CX or Dragonair. If he took Tsang’s money and cashed the cheque (what do you think?) he has a problem – if he didn’t then Tsang got a freebie for his threesome group. Given that police officers and other public officials have been charged and convicted with misconduct in public office for accepting far lower discounts there appears to be a major prima facie case against Tsang. No doubt the ICAC is looking into the Singapore Property Guru online report that Tsang’s apartment in Futian was to be ‘free’ and his free helicopter ride in Phuket, association with triad linked junket persona in Macau and a free hotel suite there. Strange that he was reported as staying on Joseph Lau’s boat in Macau in February (who now has a serious date with the criminal court there) then hitched a lift back on the Sunseeker of Charles Ho, owner of HK Tobacco Co Ltd just 2 weeks after there was no tobacco tax increase in the Budget.  See More ……

o   The reign of Donald Tsang summarised nicely in one single article.

Beijing gives Tsang a slap in the face
By Augustine Tan

HONG KONG – Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, the second chief executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, stepped down from office over the weekend after serving seven years without getting a time-honored sinecure from the central government of China. In the context of Chinese culture, that’s a slap in the face.

By comparison, his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa, though retired somewhat disgracefully, was given an honorary status of a “state leader” – vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. Some observers point out that there may be a grace period before Beijing makes its final decision on whether and how to reward Tsang for his seven years of service. But it is almost certain that the central leadership is much less happy and satisfied with Tsang’s service than with Tung’s.

In any case, on the day he officially stepped down, Tsang still had to stay around to hear President Hu Jintao pointedly tell his successor Leung Chun-ying to run “a clean and efficient” government in Hong Kong.

Since the integrity of Hong Kong’s leaders has never been challenged before and corruption in government was never a public issue until recently, this was clearly regarded as a matter of grave concern.

Beijing may yet throw a sop at Tsang, but there’s no doubt that the central government has judged Tsang’s administration of Hong Kong and found him wanting.

Seven years of Tsang’s stewardship has left Hong Kong more divided, and more lopsided in its division of wealth since Britain handed its “Pearl of the Orient” back to China.

Tsang undoubtedly was aware of Beijing’s assessment. When he stepped out of his official residence, Government House, just before midnight on Sunday, his bow-tie firmly in place, a painful smile frozen on his face, he looked as if he were walking the last stretch to the guillotine. It was that grim.

The final weeks of his administration were most unlike any other run-up to a change in administration. Some of his key people were busy undermining his successor in public. Every day brought a fresh “expose” about “illegal structures” in Leung’s house on Victoria Peak. Every expose brought fresh demands that Leung “step down” even before his taking office. And every fresh demand sparked questions about Leung’s ability to manage Hong Kong.

It was not lost on pro-Beijing Hongkongers that Tsang and most of his officials, in close partnership with the property tycoons, had strenuously supported Henry Tang Ying-yen, the former chief secretary for administration, for the chief-executive succession in March. The front-runner until the final few weeks and long regarded as Beijing’s candidate, Tang was thrashed by Leung.

Tang was floored by exposes of his infidelities, his illegally constructed basement “palace” in his villa home at Kowloon Tong, and for spinelessly pushing his wife forward to take the blame for some of his wrongdoings.

During the election campaign there were exposes and counter-exposes. Donald Tsang’s support of Tang brought out into the open a slew of questionable dealings the former had with several tycoons, including a sweetheart deal for a luxury retirement apartment in Shenzhen, and various other examples of high living and traveling at public expense.

His supporters and officials saw the exposes as Beijing-instigated punishment for interfering in a selection process that is a monopoly of the central government.

Tsang went to the Legislative Council several times to apologize for his shortcomings. But detractors noted that corruption had dogged Tsang even earlier. They included the offer of a government cash coupon for those who switched to energy-saving light bulbs, which ostensibly benefited an in-law.

Over the past few years many people, especially those in the pro-Beijing camp, have asked whether there was any correlation between Tsang’s proximity to the property tycoons and the almost total absence of housing development for the lower-income groups. Not until his final year in office was any land released for low-cost housing. Instead, the Home Ownership Scheme originally set up to provide housing for the middle class was declared a “failure” and ordered to surrender its holdings – for private development.

The scheme was revived last year at the instigation of Wang Guangya, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office under the State Council, China’s cabinet.

It was a rare instance of direct intervention by the central government. According to a member of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s parliament, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Tsang had threatened to resign over thorny issues on several occasions.

“Now everything has come to an end, and CY [Leung] will take over; it’s all about revenge … Somebody has to pay for one candidate’s loss. There’s going to be a lot more in the coming months,” the NPC member added.

The campaign against Leung morphed into one of the largest ever anti-government, anti-Beijing protest marches in Hong Kong since 2003, with more than 100,000 marching from Victoria Park to the new government headquarters in Admiralty to demand Leung’s departure – just a few hours after he was sworn in by President Hu on Sunday.

While the central government may not be overly concerned about such demonstrations, it is entirely a different matter when it comes to divisions within the pro-Beijing camp. And the property tycoons have been very much an integral part of that camp. Others like NPC Standing Committee member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, the former president of the Legislative Council who seriously wanted to run for the chief executive’s post but found no supporters from within the pro-Beijing camp, have also been taking swings at Leung.

The attacks against Leung have since the weekend extended to officials he has selected to be part of his government. His choices have been described as lightweight, inexperienced and worse.

Tsang’s supporters, if not Tsang himself, have been very active in promoting the rift. With Legislative Council elections scheduled for September, it is unlikely that Beijing will take its eyes off Hong Kong in the coming months.

Leung’s attempt to get the Legislative Council to approve his plan to revamp the government shortly before he took office was defeated by one vote. This showed how precarious his position – and that of the central government – can be if the division within the pro-Beijing camp is allowed to fester.

The slap in the face for Donald Tsang may be just the beginning – and the easiest step to take. More difficult might be calming the tycoons, who may just be mad enough to want to take their fight to the mainland.

They won’t win, but might be able to create some upsets. Is this why the richest Chinese in the world, property tycoon Li Ka-shing, is preparing to withdraw from the scene altogether by announcing how his empire will be divided between his two sons?

Augustine Tan is a Hong Kong-based journalist.

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

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