Hong Kong’s former leader has been sentenced to 20 months in prison on charges of misconduct.
Prosecutors accused Donald Tsang Yam-kuen of having undeclared conflicts of interest when he rented a luxury flat in mainland China from the shareholder in Wave Media, whose radio broadcasting licence applications he approved.
It was also alleged that he had accepted a bribe in allowing the flat to be redecorated free of charge and that he had nominated the interior designer for an honour.
The jury found him guilty of the first charge, failed to reach a verdict on the second, and dismissed the third.
The mighty fallen
Tsang had risen from humble origins to have a distinguished career in the Hong Kong civil service. In the hours before the handover of Hong Kong in 1997, in which he played a key role, he was made a Knight of the British Empire. He went on to hold three of the territory’s most senior positions, including, between 2005 and 2012, that of Chief Executive.
Tsang’s conviction relates to his conduct during the last two years of his forty-five year career.
Passing sentence, Judge Andrew Chan said that “never in my judicial career have a I seen a man fall from so high”.
Many senior Hong Kong establishment figures rallied to Tsang’s defence in court, writing letters attesting to his good character and formerly unblemished reputation.
Acknowledging this, and his long public service, the sentencing Judge knocked 10-months off what would otherwise have been a 30-month sentence for a conviction carrying a maximum penalty of seven years.
Sad but strong
Donald Tsang received his sentence with eyes closed, apparently breathing deeply. Immediately afterwards he was removed in handcuffs to the hospital where he had been staying since experiencing chest pains a few days earlier.
His wife, Selina Tsang, addressed the media outside the court, saying that she and her husband had been under immense pressure for the previous five years. She said that they would face the outcome of the trial with strength and courage, but that they would, nonetheless, be appealing the conviction.
Hong Kong, which had previously prided itself on its squeaky-clean reputation, has recently been rocked by a string of corruption scandals.
Former Chief Secretary, Rafael Hui, Tsung’s deputy, was jailed in 2014 for accepting bribes from Hong Kong property tycoon Thomas Kwok.