19 October 2019
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung denies that the government is targeting John Tsang (inset) regarding his post-government work. Photo: HKEJ
Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung denies that the government is targeting John Tsang (inset) regarding his post-government work. Photo: HKEJ

Matthew Cheung: Govt not making life difficult for John Tsang

The government is under fire for allegedly targeting former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah after he appeared in a promotional program for RTHK and hosted a musical show on Commercial Radio.

Government rules prohibit chief executives and politically appointed officials from taking full-time or part-time employment, becoming a director or a partner in any business or profession, or starting any business or profession on his own account or with others that would likely constitute a conflict of interest with their former work or cause adverse public reaction or public perception during the first year after leaving office.

Dismissing the criticism, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung said the government is not trying to make life difficult for Tsang, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

Cheung said it is the government’s responsibility to consider the nature of work done by senior officials after they leave office, whether they get paid for it or not, so as to protect the public interest.

Cheung’s remarks came after the media revealed last week that the government had expressed concern over Tsang’s participation in an RTHK program. Tsang stepped down in January and lost in the chief executive election in March.

Tsang was seen in a promotional clip for a 10-part television series called Hong Kong Stories produced by RTHK. Since Oct. 15, he has also hosted a musical program aired on Sundays on Commercial Radio. 

Facing media inquiries, Leung Ka-wing, who heads RTHK as director of broadcasting, confirmed on Sunday that Jessie Ting Yip Yin-mei, permanent secretary of the Chief Executive’s Office, had called and emailed him regarding Tsang.

According to Leung, Ting reminded him that he should pay attention to the government’s rules for retired officials.

Ting said Tsang did not report his participation to the Advisory Committee on Post-office Employment for Former Chief Executives and Politically Appointed Officials as required.

Leung denied RTHK has been under any pressure, saying the TV series will be aired as scheduled.

A spokesman for Tsang said the former financial secretary was neither paid nor employed by RTHK or Commercial Radio, just like in other charity events he has taken part in after retirement.

Commercial Radio said Tsang did not receive any payment for hosting the musical.

Some people criticized the government for targeting Tsang after keeping quiet about former chief executive Leung Chun-ying’s alleged failure to declare his appointment as a director in two companies, which was revealed by the media last month.

Cheung denied double standard in the way the two former officials were treated, saying it is something the government will not do.

Executive councilor Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, a former secretary for security, said Tsang should have reported his work for RTHK to the advisory committee, adding work is work, no matter if he did it for free.

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