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Donald Tsang in hot water over Macau trip

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Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang yesterday denied he had breached bribery laws after he admitted taking a luxury yacht trip offered by a tycoon and joining a banquet at a casino resort during a private visit to Macau.
Tsang, whose term is due to expire in June, faced accusations of bribery and conflict of interest after local media published pictures of him and his wife spending a weekend on the triple-deck luxury boat with a few tycoons and dining with junket operators and high rollers at a City of Dreams VIP club.
Hong Kong’s Oriental Daily newspaper reported that Tsang was invited by Chongqing property tycoon Zhang Songqiao.
Tsang said he was “saddened” by the claims, after confessing that he had accepted the offer but said he had paid for the expense of getting there at “market price”.
“I am saddened by the reports which questioned my integrity and suggested there is a collusion between the government and businessmen,” Tsang told public broadcaster RTHK.
The chief executive – whose wife is from Macau – said he was in the city for a private visit including tomb-sweeping and denied there was luxurious treatment on the yacht.
“I had a breakfast, consisted of fruits, porridge and noodle. I was not treated to any entertainment show, the only entertainment I had was to watch TV news, there was no karaoke, gambling or performances,” he said.
His explanation failed to impress lawmakers who have been urging the government to do more to close Hong Kong’s yawning wealth gap between rich and poor.
“I think his action has crossed the line, he has gone against the image of a chief executive who should be clean and impartial,” pro-democracy lawmaker Ronny Tong said.
Pro-establishment Liberal Party chairwoman Miriam Lau said: “If it’s proven that there’s a huge difference between what he paid and the treatment he received, it would be inappropriate.”
Under Hong Kong’s tough anti-bribery laws, the chief executive is barred from any acts of “solicitation and acceptance of advantage and possession of unexplained property”. He must declare all gifts valued over HKD 400.
According to RTHK, People Power lawmaker Albert Chan said his party will make a complaint to the corruption watchdog if Tsang fails to give a full account of his holiday trips.

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