ICAC chief denies Tsang urged him to probe Leung
Chief graft-buster Timothy Tong Hin-ming has rejected a media report that Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen urged him over lunch to investigate allegations of false statements by his successor, Leung Chun-ying.
Tong (pictured), the commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, also insisted yesterday that there was no conflict of interest in having lunch with Tsang at Government House at the same time the ICAC is investigating the departing leader's dealings with tycoons.
The commissioner was responding to a Chinese newspaper report that Tsang had urged him at lunch on Monday to investigate Leung's claims during the chief executive election campaign that he had no illegal structures at his home on The Peak. It has emerged there were six.
'There was no discussion on cases,' said Tong, 62, who retires on Saturday. 'I can tell you that the chief executive is not in a position, not in the past, not at present, and, I would like to believe, not for the future, to direct how or what to investigate.'
He said Tsang had treated him to lunch to express gratitude for his five years' work fighting bribery and corruption.
Tsang did not comment on the issue, but his office issued a statement expressing regret over the 'fabricated' media report.
Tong said the lunch was a standard practice for outgoing officials and insisted that there was no conflict of interest in lunching with Tsang, while his investigators were looking into the chief executive's acceptance of rides in yachts and private jets owned by tycoons.
Tong also said he had noticed growing public concerns about the integrity and conduct of senior government officials.
He said that of the annual 3,400 to 3,700 corruption complaints in the past five years, those involving the government accounted for 27 per cent to 29 per cent. But not more than 10 per cent were prosecuted. He said the figure showed that the conduct of government officials was still good.
'If we go by the quantitative approach, in terms of number, you cannot say that it is a significant portion as yet,' he said. 'If you go for the gravity, the situation can be different in that it attracts a lot of attention.'
The commission currently has no power to investigate allegations that centre purely on misconduct, which was a separate offence under Common Law.
Tong said it involved complicated legal considerations and it would not be for the ICAC to determine whether it should be made part of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance.
Tong would not say who he thought should succeed either him or Deputy Commissioner Daniel Li Ming-chak, who retires next month, except to say that the assistant commissioners were capable enough.
Former immigration director Simon Peh Yun-lu is hotly tipped to succeed Tong.
Tong joined the government in November 1972, as an executive officer and served in several bureaus and departments. He was deputy secretary for security from 1999 to 2003, and was subsequently appointed as commissioner of customs and excise. He became ICAC commissioner in July 2007.
Tong said that after his retirement he planned to return to writing short novels and would also be interested in doing consultative work for international graft-fighting institutions.