An inside look at ex-chief executive Donald Tsang’s life in Stanley Prison

Former Hong Kong leader will have to get used to plain fare and simple pleasures as he serves 20-month sentence in maximum-security jail
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Accommodation and basic supplies

Convicted former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is expected to live in an 80.7 square foot single cell with a plastic bed, a plastic desk attached to the wall, a plastic chair and a sink and toilet made of stainless steel

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• Required to wear brown prison garb

• Provided with one roll of toilet paper every three weeks

Daily routine

6.30am Wake up, clean up, tidy up the cell

7.00am Prison officer patrol

8.00am Breakfast

9.00am Work

12.30pm Lunch

1.30pm Work

5.00pm Dinner and leisure time (e.g. watching TV/playing chess and music)

6.30pm Return to cell and receive late night snack (milk and bread with butter)

8.00pm Cell locked up

8,00pm–10.00pm Free time in cell, can read and write letters

10,00pm Lights off and bedtime

*An hour of recess is included in either one of the work periods (morning or afternoon). Prisoners can relax in the yard or take a shower.


Four categories of food depending on the ethnicity or preference of the prisoner.

1. Typical Chinese food – meat, vegetables, rice, tea and fruit

2. Curry – vegetables, naan, fruit and tea

3. Potato oriented – bread, potatoes, beans, vegetables, fruit and tea

4. Vegetarian – beans, rice, vegetables, fruit and tea

Work and pay

• All prisoners are required to work for not more than 10 hours a day to reduce the risk of unrest due to boredom. But they may be excused from work on medical grounds.

• Pay ranges from HK$23 to HK$192, depending on the type of work. Inmates who are unable to work for health reasons may receive a basic HK$23 a week.

• Work ranges from making clothes and doing leather work to making traffic signs, slabs and kerbs for highways and infrastructure projects and doing simple manual work like providing laundry services for the Hospital Authority and doing printing work for government departments.

• Tsang may have to do only easy work like binding books for public libraries and making envelopes given his health issues and age.

Rights in prison

• Each inmate can use his or her earnings from work in the prison to purchase approved items such as tissue paper or other daily consumable items twice a month

• Can watch TV in dining halls and day rooms

• Can own radio set of a specified model

• Newspapers and library books are available

• Prisoners can send and receive an unrestricted number of letters

• Catholics like Tsang can participate in religious services and ask to read the Bible

• Relatives and friends can visit a convicted person in custody twice a month. Each visit lasts no longer than 30 minutes. No more than three visitors, including infants and children, are allowed at one time.

On admission, all persons in custody are required to declare the names and relationships of their visitors. They may later add new visitors to the list or remove existing ones subject to prison approval.

• Visitors can give an unlimited number of religious books and up to six magazines or other reading material to a prisoner each month.

• Music lovers can receive a guitar from visitors, but it must be wooden, non-electric and with nylon strings. The instrument must be approved by the authorities.

Other public figures at Stanley Prison

• Tsang’s former chief secretary, Rafael Hui Si-yan, who was jailed for seven-and-a-half years in 2014 for bribery and misconduct

• Controversial businessman Lew Mon-hung, who was jailed for 18 months in 2016 for sending letters and emails to the chief executive and the city’s top graft-buster in a bid to stop an investigation in which he was involved

• Feng shui master Peter Chan Chun-chuen, who was jailed for 12 years for forging billionaire Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum’s will in order to claim her fortune


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