Date
22 January 2017
(From left to right) CY Leung in Chicago, John Tsang in Frankfurt and Greg So in Australia. Questions have been raised over the numerous overseas trips of Hong Kong's top-ranking officials. Photos: Bloomberg, HK Government
(From left to right) CY Leung in Chicago, John Tsang in Frankfurt and Greg So in Australia. Questions have been raised over the numerous overseas trips of Hong Kong's top-ranking officials. Photos: Bloomberg, HK Government

Leung and top aides spent HK$10 mln on official trips in 2015

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is said to have incurred an expenditure of more than a million Hong Kong dollars in the first half of this year on official travel.

Together with three secretaries of departments and 13 directors of bureaus, Hong Kong’s top-ranking officials spent over HK$10 million on official trips to other countries and cities over the full year, according to Apple Daily.

A spokesperson for the Chief Executive’s Office refused to reveal the spending of Leung in the second half, saying the exact figure is yet to be tabulated, the report said.

But in the first six months, Leung spent around HK$1.07 million on seven official trips. The chief executive made nine more overseas tours in the second half, with the destinations including England and Israel.

It seems likely that Leung will break his previous record, given that his expenditure on official visits during 2013 and 2014 amounted to HK$1.34 million and HK$1.05 million respectively.

Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and Commerce Secretary Gregory So Kam-leung spent the most on official travel this year, according to data released by the government.

Tsang made 10 official trips overseas, spending HK$1.68 million. Of that amount, HK$1.42 million is said to have been spent on trips to seven western countries.

Gregory So followed closely behind John Tsang by spending nearly HK$1.59 million in the same period. A four-day trip to Japan, for instance, involved an expense of HK$86,000.

In total, So paid 20 official visits over the year, traveling to Russia, Germany, France, Canada, Australia, Chile, Mexico, US, Belgium and five Asian countries.

Altogether, the commerce chief spent 78 days on official travel overseas, the most among all top officials.

Meanwhile, Secretary for Labour and Welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung spent the least with only a one-day trip made to Shenzhen that involved an expenditure of HK$2,408.

The figure was 97 percent less than money spent by Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah and 78 percent less than that spent by the newly appointed Innovation and Technology Bureau chief Nicholas Yang Wei-hsiung.

Lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching criticized the government officials for spending too much on overseas travel.

“It seems that the amount spent on these trips was meaningless for them; it is just like the white elephant projects, money doesn’t seem to be a problem,” she said. 

Benson Wong Wai-kwok, assistant professor at the department of Government and International Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University, wondered whether all the overseas trips actually help in improving the city’s governance.

He urged the government to disclose all the spending in detail and be more transparent. 

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BT/AC/RC

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