6th January 2022 – (Hong Kong) The Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced in a press conference today (6th) that the Civil Service Bureau will contact more senior civil servants to confirm whether they attended the birthday party of Witman Hung Wai-man, principal liaison officer for Hong Kong at the Shenzhen Qianhai Authority. The government headquarters will be cleaned and disinfect tonight and civil servants are required to strictly observe anti-epidemic regulations. Lam was also disappointed that senior officials in particular, Secretary for Home Affairs, Caspar Tsui had failed to lead by example and still attended large gatherings under the epidemic.
Hung held a birthday party for more than 100 people at a restaurant in Causeway Centre in Wan Chai on Monday (3rd). Many officials and Legislative Councillors attended the event, a preliminary COVID-19 case was confirmed subsequently. Those present at the event included members of Parliament Legislative Councillors Rock Chen Chung-nin, Benson Luk Hon-man and Duncan Chi as well as Caspar Tsui. Tik Chi-yuen who had lunch with Tsui a few days ago, has also been tested. It is understood that the preliminarily infected person was a young woman wearing a mask on the day of the event and only sent gift to congratulate Hung.
Lam said that now that the Omicron variant virus has entered the community and she is very disappointed with so many officials attending the large gathering, especially Caspar Tsui because in contrast, the other nine senior officials were only invited to “greet or congratulate.” They did not stay behind to eat. so they did not take off their masks to communicate with others. Those who did stay behind left before 9.30pm. Lam pointed out that just as the whole city has been working hard to fight the epidemic for a long time, as an official, Tsui should set an example by strictly avoiding private gatherings. Obviously, this party was not necessary for official business.
Lam emphasised that individual officials should be held responsible for the incident, and reiterated that the entire anti-epidemic work requires the concerted efforts of the whole society. If the government formulates measures and regulations, they will not be able to fight the epidemic if they fail to comply. She pointed out that it was because of this that she was so disappointed with this group of government officials. Tsui has been listed as a close contact.
Lam said that she had requested the officials who had attended party to prove whether they had left before 9.30pm including the use of “LeaveHomeSafe” records, the entry and exit records of government drivers, Octopus card records when using public transport. Regarding Director of Immigration of Hong Kong, Au Ka-wang’s situation, Lam described it as “complicated” and needs to be handed over to the Centre for Health Protection to investigate whether the case has been classified as a close contact.
Lam stated that after internal investigation, Au claimed that he arrived at the venue after 9.30pm and he stayed only for a short while. He claimed that he did not visit the main part of the restaurant. As for whether he will be officially defined as a “close contact”, it must be decided by the Center for Health Protection.
Police Chief Raymond Siu and Hermes Tang Yi-hoi, a former Commissioner of Customs and Excise of Hong Kong was also present. Other Legislative Councillors present include Chan Pui-leung and Johnny Ng Kit-chong. Under Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Jack Chan Jick–chi, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Christopher Hui Ching-yu, former member of the Central and Western District Council, Joseph Chan Ho-lim, Under Secretary for Innovation and Technology, Dr. David Chung Wai-keung, Lilian Cheong Man-lei, Political Assistant to Secy for Innovation & Technology Innovation and Technology Bureau, Under Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs, Clement Woo, Ex-Director of Immigration of Hong Kong and Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2012, Simon Peh Yun-lu and Director of Immigration of Hong Kong, Au Ka-wang.
Carrie Lam said earlier that Cathay Pacific executives should be responsible for their employees and she was asked if she needs to be held accountable as the chief executive, and whether Caspar Tsui needs to be held accountable to step down, Lam responded that he is the first person in charge of the epidemic in Hong Kong and he is naturally responsible. She expressed disappointment over him. She said that appropriate actions will be taken for the actions of individual officials, but it is not suitable to be made public today. She emphasised that that she will thoroughly investigate the case and follow up to the end.
She stressed that it is frustrating to increase the risk of spreading the epidemic as a result of the party, and will definitely follow up on whether there are any problems with the banquet restaurant itself, including follow-up on whether the restaurant meets the requirements of the Epidemic Prevention Regulation Cap 599(F). She has asked Food and Environmental Hygiene Department to check and found that the restaurant is a Category D restaurant and all employees must be vaccinated, and 2/3 of the guests must have been vaccinated.