The conviction of seven police officers who were caught on camera punching and kicking a handcuffed protester during a 2014 Occupy clearance operation has caused quite a stir north of the border amid strident remarks against the Hong Kong judge for the “heavy and biased” penalty.
But another case involving former chief executive Donald Tsang has some mainlanders curious about the disgraced top leader and the treatment he received.
“He would still be pampered, travel in a chauffeured limo with a big entourage and enjoy all the political perks if he was a public servant in the mainland… all his wrongdoing was nothing at all by Communist Party standards.”
Tsang was found guilty in the High Court for misconduct in public office after a jury reached, by a majority, a verdict against the former head of the SAR.
Tsang failed to declare a conflict of interest when chairing an Executive Council meeting that approved a digital broadcasting license application by one of his tycoon friends, Bill Wong, who was also the owner of a Shenzhen luxury penthouse that Tsang intended to rent after retirement.
He was sentenced this week to a 20-month immediate custodial term, and media reports say he will, after a careful consideration by the Correctional Services Department, be transferred from the Lai Chi Kok Reception Center to Stanley Prison, Hong Kong’s largest maximum security prison for males with felony offenses.
Tsang will be kept in the same block with thousands of Hong Kong’s most dangerous people who are mainly robbers, murderers or gang members, although it is said he will be allowed to sleep in his own cell.
One of the inmates there is Tsang’s ex-deputy, former chief secretary for administration Rafael Hui, who is serving a seven-and-a-half-year term for graft.
We are not sure if Tsang will have the chance to meet Hui and how the former No. 1 and No. 2 officials will greet each other inside the prison.
Tsang’s ascent from humble origin to power and the dramatic fall from grace have grabbed much attention in the mainland. People are surprised that a top leader status doesn’t mean immunity from prosecution.
They also laugh at the indictments Tsang faced and other media revelations about some “petty advantages” he sought while in office.
Many mainlanders had never heard of these concepts like “declaration of interests” or “conflict of interest” until the Tsang trial, that a member of the top echelon of the government is required to make a declaration if he has an interest in any item to be discussed or examined by the cabinet, and he may have to withdraw from the discussion to avoid conflict of interest.
These standards are non-existent in the mainland.
Mainland netizens found it hard to believe that Tsang is behind bars simply because he didn’t disclose in advance that he knew the tycoon whose company was applying for a broadcasting license.
As they argue, a rental flat from the tycoon may not be a direct reward for approving the application as the decision was made collectively by Tsang’s cabinet rather than himself.
“Come on, Tsang was not going to get a free home in return. What the tycoon wanted was a broadcasting license, not a huge chunk of premium land or a fat procurement order from the government!
“If we adopt the same standard about conflict of interest, then 99 percent of party cadres will be guilty.”
They were also shocked that a top leader like Tsang liked to use his own credit card to get some trivial offers, after the media reported that he used his own card to pay for accommodation on official trips and then get reimbursement from the government so as to accumulate points and rewards.
“You don’t need any credit card or even money once you become a mayor or governor in the mainland. Just use your name and your face. No one would dare charge you… Everything comes for free! Pity the Hong Kong chief executive. He wanted to get some tiny bank rewards? That’s unbelievable,” they said.
They’re also amazed at another report saying Tsang, while serving as financial secretary, wrote a letter with official heading to request the Medical Council to waive the licensing exam for his son.
“In the mainland, you don’t have to write such a letter at all. The son or daughter of a senior leader can get whatever qualifications he or she wants.”
One more scoop about Tsang left mainlanders incredulous about the treatment of a top leader.
Tsang was found using a second hand treadmill in Government House reportedly from Sun Hung Kai Properties then managing director Thomas Kwok.
A spokeswoman for the developer said a 1998-type treadmill was sent to Tsang as it was the company’s policy to lease or donate redundant equipment for environmental protection.
“What? A second-hand treadmill for the chief executive? That’s just humiliating. Kwok should have given the top leader a brand-new one, even a whole gym,” mainland netizens exclaimed.
“Hong Kong’s top leader was so cheap. His treatment couldn’t even be compared with that of a county chief!”
Their conclusion: Tsang’s biggest mistake was that he didn’t choose the mainland to build his political career.
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