politics article on Hong Kong leader apologizes as pressure builds over scandals regarding Tsang, Public, Series, Leader, Chief, Kong, Independent, Accepting, China, China, City, Report, Scandals, Cases, British, Kong, Office, Meaning
Hong Kong's outgoing leader Donald Tsang tearfully apologized on Friday for his part in one of a series of corruption scandals that have embarrassed China, a day after an independent report called for him to be held more accountable.
Tsang, 67, has found himself in hot water at the twilight of his career over a series of cases that have undermined his credibility and led to a probe by the city's anti-corruption watchdog, the ICAC.
"Because of my personal mishandling of matters, in shaking public confidence in Hong Kong's (civil service) to be incorrupt and honest in performing one's duties, and in causing disappointment towards civil servants, I once again wholeheartedly apologies to everyone," Tsang told reporters.
He then bowed his head for a few seconds, pursed his quivering lips and fought back tears, before leaving.
A series of scandals ensnaring powerful officials have tarnished the city's reputation as a relatively corruption-free society, while posing a thorny challenge for China's leaders who have strived to maintain stability in Hong Kong since it reverted from British to Chinese rule in 1997.
Among the high profile cases is the ICAC's arrest of close Tsang ally and former chief secretary Rafael Hui, and the three billionaire tycoon Kwok brothers at the helm Asia's largest property company, Sun Hung Kai, as part of an ongoing investigation into bribery charges and misconduct.
Public resentment toward Tsang has centered on reports of lavish spending on overseas duty visits, along with taking trips with tycoons by private jet and luxury yacht, accepting a sweetheart rental deal for a 6500-square-foot penthouse in southern China, and staying in a high-roller suite at the Venetian casino resort in Macau.
Under current laws in Hong Kong, the chief executive is the only public official exempted from accepting advantages in office, meaning that in effect the leader is not subject to any checks and balances.
An independent committee, however, led by a respected former chief justice in Hong Kong, released a report on Thursday calling for tighter laws to redress the "fundamental defect" in legislation.
Tsang, who retires next month, pledged to accept the recommendation and stressed "a clean government is a core value".
With China striving to ease tensions after the ouster of ambitious party elder Bo Xilai ahead of a leadership transition in the fall, Hong Kong's problems have been an unwelcome headache, particularly for China's next anointed leader Xi Jinping, who largely oversees the financial hub's affairs.
The perennially bow tie wearing Tsang who was knighted by the Queen for his distinguished public service under the British colonial administration, will be succeeded by the Beijing-backed Leung Chun-ying on July 1.