Former Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang moves from high flyer to remand prisoner

Tsang, who was moved from a remand centre to the custodial ward in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, now faces the prospect of prison fare

Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen once dined with high-flying businessmen in Macau and took yacht rides with tycoons, but Monday night was a low point for him, in the custodial ward of Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Tsang, 72, was remanded on Monday at the Lai Chi Kok Reception Centre for two nights ahead of sentencing on Wednesday, when he is expected to be jailed for misconduct in public office.

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Tsang’s first dinner behind bars would have been chicken wings, vegetables and rice, according to a prison source, but he was instead taken to hospital after he complained of feeling unwell.

After more than four decades as a civil servant, during which he earned the nickname “Bow-tie Tsang” for his favourite accessory, the former leader had to swap his suit for prison garb on Monday. That was before he was wheeled on a stretcher into the hospital’s custodial ward.

While he is unable to access his regular wardrobe of dapper clothes, his faith as a devout Catholic entitles him to a Bible to read in prison.

When Tsang arrived at the Lai Chi Kok centre – one of six maximum security prisons in Hong Kong – officers took his fingerprints and photo, and confiscated his personal items.

He also had a medical check-up and a security X-ray scan – a measure introduced in 2013 to replace manual rectal searches.

While prisoners on remand can order private food, the time needed to process the request means Tsang will have to eat regular prison fare, which is usually plain rice with boiled vegetables, bread with potatoes and beans, or curry dishes with naan bread.

All prisoners would be treated equally, the Correctional Services Department said.

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