Lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said he will urge a committee of the Legislative Council to investigate an incident whereby lawmaker Tam Yiu-chung allegedly jumped the queue and received special treatment when undergoing surgery at a public hospital. Tam is a former chairman of the pro-Beijing Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB).

Kwok said he will write to the Committee on Members’ Interests to ask for an investigation, despite the fact that direct countable monetary interests may not be involved.

“[O]ther patients have to wait for a year or two for the first doctor’s inspection, and then wait for another unknown period of time for surgery – this kind of special treatment is a benefit that cannot even be bought with money,” he said.

Tam Yiu-chung; Kwok Ka-ki. File

“If a lawmaker performed inappropriate actions during the incident, the relevant committee must make appropriate responses, including condemnation and warnings,” he said.

He added that he will ask to meet the chairman and the chief executive of the Hospital Authority.

“We do not wish to see such [queue jumping] behaviour at other public hospitals,” he said.

He demanded the Hospital Authority make clear guidelines to prevent hospitals from displaying favouritism towards public officials.

Ip Kwok-him, the committee’s chairman and a party colleague of Tam, said lawmakers should not “say whatever they like to say” without grounds. He said the issue related to a lawmaker’s personal ethics, and the committee was not able to handle it.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Further apologies

Tam was accused of receiving VIP treatment, in that he was suddenly placed at the top of the operating theatre list on Tuesday for his ear polyp surgery at Jordan’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital. He allegedly used staff entrance and resting rooms before and after the surgery.

Without naming Tam, the hospital confirmed the incident, but did not confirm whether Tam had jumped the queue, only stating that the patient was the first in line to receive surgery during that period.

The hospital stressed that the management did not know of the arrangement and that the incident was inappropriate. It apologised, saying that it will take the matter seriously and investigate.

Tam also apologised for the incident on Thursday for causing inconvenience to all concerned, and bowed several times in front of the reporters’ stand at the Legislative Council on Friday.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.