Former Australian state MP Ernest Wong forwarded a letter to a Chinatown waitress’ husband to demand he tell a private anti-corruption hearing the NSW Labor politician had led efforts to rid the precinct of Chinese triads, an inquiry has heard.
Teresa Tam, who worked casually at Emperor’s Garden noodle bar and was a listed $10,000 (US$7,000) cash donor at a 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor dinner, appeared before the Independent Commission Against Corruption on Sept. 24.
ICAC is investigating whether Chinese billionaire property developer Huang Xiangmo, now banned from Australia, was the true source of $100,000 (US$70,000) said to be donated by 12 people in $5000 (US$3,000) chunks at the dinner.
Huang was prohibited from making donations to NSW political parties.
Tam told the inquiry that Wong on June 12 this year visited her at Emperor’s Garden and handed her a piece of paper to pass on to husband Ming Biu.
Ming Biu was set to provide evidence at a private pre-ICAC hearing the same day, having been named as a contributor to Tam’s Labor donations.
Tam purportedly donated $5000 (US$3,000) to NSW Labor and $5000 (US$3,000) to Country Labor.
The letter, written in Chinese, was an instruction from Wong—accused of illegally seeking Labor donations from Huang—on what to tell ICAC.
“You must insist the money donated to the Labor Party was your own money. You donated this money with your wife,” Wong said in the letter to Tam.
“We work in restaurants. We receive lots of payments in cash, tips, lucky packet money, our daughter will sometimes give us some money around Chinese New Year. Chinese by tradition keep money in cash at home for contingency use.
“If asked if you know Ernest Wong, Ernest Wong is a good friend of everyone in the Chinese community, everyone knows him.
“I recall the incidents when the triad gangs, blackmailing people in Chinatown for protection money … Mr. Wong assisted bosses in restaurants to seek assistance.”
Tam said she gave the letter to her husband at home some 10 minutes later and then reclaimed it, before giving it to lawyer Kevin Zhu on Monday.
In the week prior to public ICAC hearings beginning on August 26, Tam encountered Wong sitting alone and eating Yum Cha in an Emperor’s Garden VIP room.
“He told me to sit down. He said he has reviewed my information and told me to answer in relation to my statement, told to tell the same lies as in the past,” Tam said.
Tam admitted she had not made donations to the Labor Party and agreed to be listed as a donor at the behest of Emperor’s Garden general manager and CFL convenor Jonathan Yee.
She said she had regretted her decision to lie to the Electoral Commission and then to ICAC, saying she felt “uncomfortable,”cried often and couldn’t sleep at night.
The inquiry continues.