SCMP Tuesday, September 12, 2000


Party vows to pursue Gary Cheng affair


DAB chairman Tsang Yok-sing has pledged to tighten monitoring of party members and to pursue the Gary Cheng Kai-nam affair.
He said the investigation would not cease despite the rise in support for the party and the victories of Mr Cheng and his running mate, Choy So-yuk, in the Hong Kong Island constituency.
"We have never assumed that the support is forgiveness of Mr Cheng . . . or that people think we have not admitted any fault," Mr Tsang said. "It also doesn't amount to a full-stop to the saga."
He said the party would co-operate with the new legislature on investigating Mr Cheng's affairs. But he refused to say whether it would support ousting Mr Cheng from Legco.
Mr Cheng's re-election spurred calls from fellow legislators yesterday for an inquiry by the new council. Veteran Democrat Szeto Wah pledged his first task would be to urge lawmakers to follow up the scandal, while party colleague Andrew Cheng Kar-foo called on his Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong rival in New Territories East, Lau Kong-wah, to keep his promise to pursue the affair.
Mr Cheng, who headed the ticket on Hong Kong Island, has admitted failing to disclose business links, passing a confidential government document to a business contact and an extramarital affair.
He secured 72,617 votes, which was 17,565 fewer than in 1998. Hong Kong Island was also the only one of the five geographical constituencies in which the DAB suffered a drop in support.
Mr Cheng failed to show for the results. He opted to head for a short break away from the SAR immediately after polling stations closed.
Mr Tsang said Mr Cheng would calm down during the short holiday and evaluate his position. "He hasn't slept and eaten well in the past two weeks. He is quite weak at the moment. So we agreed to let him take a break after the campaign ended."
Mr Tsang dismissed suggestions the party had got votes from people who would have chosen the party regardless of any scandal. "We never expected any 'solid' vote at all. We don't expect someone to vote for us no matter how badly we have done."
He said the party's success was due to its long service in society. "Our support has gradually built up on the foundation of our service [to Hong Kong], it is not a bubble which arose from a single incident."
Vice-chairman Ip Kwok-him said the party's solid foundation had helped it to overcome the weighty attacks it had been forced to endure.
Emily Lau Wai-hing of The Frontier kept up those attacks yesterday, saying Hong Kong would be ashamed if Mr Cheng remained an elected legislator. She was dismayed Mr Cheng had secured a seat.
Eric Li Ka-cheung, who was returned in the Accountancy functional constituency, agreed an investigation should be conducted on the matter as soon as possible.
Former Legco president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, who was returned by the Election Committee, did not oppose an investigation into Mr Cheng.
The DAB has secured 11 seats in the new legislature, an increase of one. Seven were returned from direct polls, three from functional constituencies and one from the Election Committee. It is the second largest party, one behind the Democrats.
Mr Tsang said it was a meaningless issue whether or not the party was the largest. He said the party would now be looking ahead and its ambition was to secure a majority of seats.