FORMER chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was given a break from prison life on Monday, after a Hong Kong court granted his bail application.
In February, Tsang was jailed for 20 months for a charge of misconduct in office involving a penthouse in mainland China. He has continued to deny the allegations of graft throughout the proceedings and will appeal against the conviction and sentence. After Monday’s decision, he will be on bail until then.
The devout Catholic is the most senior city official to serve time behind bars, bringing an ignominious end to what had been a long and distinguished career, before and after the 1997 handover of the former British colony to Chinese rule.
According to South China Morning Post, Tsang’s awarding of bail comes after he suffered health issues while in custody.
Before the hearing, his wife had said: “Yam-kuen’s health has been fluctuating lately, but [he] will definitely recover.”
On Monday, Tsang was transferred to the court building from Queen Mary Hospital, where he had been staying. He had been moved there from Stanley Prison after complaining of breathing problems.
During the hearing, Tsang asked the guards near him for an inhaler and his sister was needed to give him water.
When Monday’s ruling was announced, Tsang’s wife Selina Tsang Pou Siu-mei and son Thomas Tsang Hing-shun embraced, while his sister Katherine Tsang King-suen burst into tears.
A nine-person jury ruled in February that Tsang had deliberately concealed private rental negotiations with property tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau while his cabinet discussed and approved a digital broadcasting licence for a now defunct radio company, Wave Media, in which Wong was a major shareholder.
Jurors failed to return a majority verdict for another charge related to bribery, with a re-trial tentatively set for September.
Additional reporting by Reuters