LCQ17: Air ticket and hotel accommodation arrangements for duty visits made by Secretaries of Department or Directors of Bureau

     Following is a question by the Hon Paul Tse Wai-chun and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (June 27):


     As disclosed by some veterans of the aviation industry, in the past, airlines would intentionally offer super-VIP treatment such as luxurious suites and upgrade of air tickets to Secretaries of Department (SoDs) and Directors of Bureau (DoBs), including officials in charge of tourism and aviation policies, on their overseas duty visits.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  what mechanism is in place and which policy bureau or government department is tasked to record and assess the appropriateness of the aforesaid air ticket upgrades, hotel accommodation and other super-VIP treatment offered by airlines;

(b)  of the number of cases since the reunification in which SoDs and DoBs had accepted the upgrade of air tickets or hotel accommodation (including luxurious suites) offered by airlines, together with the specific details;

(c)  whether it knows which airlines among the registered airlines in Hong Kong have frequently offered upgrade of air tickets and hotel accommodation to government officials; and

(d)  whether it has reviewed if the aforesaid upgrades and treatment (especially the concessions and treatment suspected to be offered to officials in charge of aviation policies) will lead to partiality on the part of the SAR Government in the scrutiny and formulation of aviation-related policies and in the execution of the relevant measures, or will arouse similar suspicion among members of the community; if it has, of the outcome of the review; if not, whether it will immediately conduct such a review?



(a)&(d)  "The Code for Officials under the Political Appointment System" (Code) and the Civil Service Regulations (CSRs) set out the guidelines regarding the relevant arrangements in respect of overseas duty visits for politically appointed officials (PAOs) and civil servants respectively.  All PAOs and civil servants must act in accordance with the Code and CSRs.  All PAOs and civil servants have to apply for approvals from their reporting seniors for their overseas duty visits, and draw the overseas susbsistence allowance provided for transportation, meals and accommodation pursuant to the Code and CSRs.  Respective bureau is responsible for keeping its own records of overseas duty visits made by its officers, including the arrangements for air tickets and hotel accommodation.

     PAOs and civil servants are subject to various legislative and administrative provisions relating to prevention and handling of potential conflicts of interests, including acceptance of advantages or entertainment.  Among these regulations is the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (Chapter 201).  It is an offence for PAOs and civil servants to accept any advantage without the permission of the Chief Executive or relevant reporting seniors.  

(b)&(c) According to the records of individual policy bureaux, none of the Secretaries of Department nor Directors of Bureau have accepted complimentary upgrade of air ticket or hotel accommodation offered by airlines.

Ends/Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:30