Home affairs chief resigns after birthday party scandal
Caspar Tsui, Hong Kong’s secretary for home affairs, resigned on Monday amid a scandal over a birthday party which he attended.
The party took place before new Covid-19 restrictions came into force, but after Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam had called on people to practice social distancing and avoid large gatherings.
Tsui was among 15 officials who attended the party to celebrate the 53rd birthday of Witman Hung, a city delegate to the national legislature. Two of the 200 guests subsequently tested positive for Covid-19.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Lam said that Tsui had “brought the Hong Kong government into disrepute” and “did not meet the expectations of the general public.”
“I accepted his resignation,” she added.
In a statement, Tsui admitted that he had made the wrong decision by attending the January 3 bash. “As one of the principal officials taking the lead in the anti-epidemic fight, I have not set the best example,” he said.
Lam also announced that two other officials who attended the party – Allen Fung, a political assistant to the secretary for development, and Vincent Fung, an official in the Policy Innovation and Co-ordination Office – would be reprimanded and given verbal warnings.
An investigation had cleared 12 other government officials who went to the function, she added, noting that they only attended briefly.
Hong Kong is currently experiencing a spike in Covid-19 infections following a prolonged period without any local infections. Amid harsh new restrictions, law enforcement issued a cull on hamsters after several of the rodents were found to be infected with the virus.
Tsui is not the only politician to be afflicted by a scandal-ridden birthday party; British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been put under pressure to resign amid allegations that he broke his own Covid rules. One accusation concerns an alleged birthday party; ministers have insisted the PM was simply presented with a cake by colleagues at Downing Street.