Tung Chee-hwa's top aide resigns, reasons unclear


Sat, Jan 08, 2005 - Page 5

The top aide of Hong Kong's chief executive Tung Chee-hwa (董建華) has stepped down after a magazine ran pictures of him with a female friend in a Tokyo hotel, officials confirmed on Friday.

Lam Woon-kwong, 53, stepped down as director of Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's office after pictures were published of him with former journalist Po Wing-kay in the Grand Hyatt in Tokyo.

However, the leader of Hong Kong's pro-democracy camp claimed the real reason for Lam's departure was that he had fallen out with Beijing-appointed Tung over the barring of the mayor of Taipei.

The article in the Chinese-language magazine Sudden Weekly included an interview with Lam's wife of 28 years over the relationship between her husband and the former journalist.

Lam said in a statement had resigned "in view of the media report on my private affairs" and said he was "deeply indebted to the chief executive for his guidance and tolerance."

A career civil servant, Lam has served in the government for 30 years and was secretary for home affairs before becoming Tung's chief of staff in 2002.

His resignation was accepted immediately by Tung after the magazine hit the streets on Thursday evening, a government source confirmed.

The resignation of Lam was a further blow to Hong Kong's unpopular Beijing-appointed chief executive who was last month given a public dressing down by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤).

Hu publically ordered Tung to improve his governance when he attended anniversary celebrations of Macau's return to Chinese sovereignty.

However, Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat (李永達) claimed the "real reason" for Lam's departure was that he fell out with Tung over the decision to deny Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) a visa to enter Hong Kong.

The Taipei mayor, due to visit next week, was believed to have been refused a visa because of remarks he made criticizing China's proposal for an anti-secession law.

Lee told Friday's South China Morning Post: "It is sad that he chose to conceal the real reason of his resignation -- which is disillusionment with Tung."