Enough is enough in Donald odyssey

Editorial | Nov 7, 2017
Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's high-profile trial - and retrial - on a bribery charge has finally come to an end.

But the prosecution is keeping the door open to the possibility of reviving the case against the SAR's second chief executive in the future, in the event of a change of circumstances, or new evidence surfaces.

That, however, would be easier said than done, as high-priced imported prosecutor, David Perry, QC, had been given two cracks at trying to persuade enough jurors to accept his view that Tsang should be found guilty.

After two trials, one should have a fair idea of the strength of the evidence that the prosecution side has assembled. Apparently, the prosecution isn't taking the latest setback well, asking to have the bribery charge left in the court's file, while demanding Tsang bear part of its legal costs.

"Bowtie Tsang" was accused of accepting free renovations worth HK$3.5 million at a Shenzhen penthouse that he had planned to live in after retirement, in exchange for being disposed to granting a broadcast license to Wave Media, whose majority shareholder, Bill Wong Cho-bau, indirectly owned the Futian premises and paid for the refurbishment.

It's a correct decision to bring the case to an end - no matter how unwilling the prosecution might be in letting go.

In theory, it's possible for the prosecution side to seek a third, fourth, fifth, or what have you, trial of the case if subsequent trials end in a hung jury each time.

But doing so without overwhelming reasons would risk being perceived by the public as persecution - rather than prosecution - or waging a vendetta against the accused.

Should the prosecution get a third chance to convince a new jury? Yes, providing there are compelling reasons.

But after two trials, all the evidence in its possession must have been bared.

For Tsang, a 73-year-old career civil servant and politician, it must have been a torturous experience. He is still appealing to overturn the conviction of one count of misconduct in public office for not disclosing his dealings with Wong to the Executive Council, which he headed as chief executive.

On that conviction, he was sentenced to 20 months in jail, and is currently free on bail pending the appeal.

Nobody can possibly predict the outcome.

Yet, as far as the bribery charge that has now resulted in two hung juries is concerned, it would be safe to declare that public justice has been duly manifested, following a proper and lengthy legal process that assumes an individual is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This right should be protected, and the decision by the Department of Justice to hold the horses helps to safeguard this right that is so vital to everyone in Hong Kong, where the rule of law is second to none.

Tsang may be a controversial - or even a polarizing - public figure for some. But even so, he shouldn't be deprived of protection from excessive legal process.

Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung has made some questionable decisions in the past. This one is fair.

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December 2018