Law changes urged to tackle corrupt officials
A board that reviews anti-corruption operations is calling on the government to speed up legislative changes to make it easier to prosecute corrupt officials and civil servants.
The ICAC's Operations Review Committee said the anti-graft body was stymied in its efforts to hold accountable those individuals who abuse their powers in public office.
Last year, the independent review committee referred 150 government officials suspected of misconduct to department heads or the Civil Service Bureau for action.
Of the 22 cases completed by the end of the year, disciplinary action had been taken against 15 civil servants.
In his statement in the ICAC's annual report, operations review committee chairman Andrew Chuang Siu-leung said the government should speed up legislative amendments so 'investigation and prosecution of misconduct by public officials could be more effective'.
He said the committee 'remained concerned with incidences of misuse of authority, indebtedness and other activities that were either illegal or conducive to corruption'.
The common law offence of misconduct in public office is not included in the two ordinances from which the Independent Commission Against Corruption gets its powers to arrest - the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance and ICAC Ordinance.
But an ICAC spokeswoman said it had prosecuted cases involving misconduct in public office when those cases also had included other offences such as bribery or corruption.
Last year, just one case involving a government employee committing misconduct in public office was prosecuted following an ICAC investigation. That case involved former deputy privacy commissioner Tony Lam Wing-hong.
Internal disciplinary actions against civil servants include reprimand, reduction in rank, compulsory retirement and dismissal.
The report also pointed out that while there had been a drop in the number of complaints against the government sector, this may be due to many public services being outsourced. That meant those cases were now categorised as complaints against the private sector.
Last year, the ICAC received 3,300 complaints, including 1,000 involving the government sector - an 8 per cent drop in complaints against civil servants on the previous year.