More graft gripes emerge from private firms

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 March, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 March, 2008, 12:00am

There has been a shift in corruption complaints from the public sector to the private sector, but the overall number of reports remained at the same level as before the 1997 handover, the anti-graft agency has said.

Complaints about the public sector comprised 45 per cent of the total in 1997, compared with 30 per cent last year. The number of complaints last year and in 1997 remained steady, at about 3,600.

ICAC commissioner Timothy Tong Hin-ming said yesterday the figures suggested Hong Kong's graft situation had not deteriorated with mainland rule.

'The number of corruption reports 10 years ago was similar to those we obtained last year,' Mr Tong said.

'But we have noticed their nature has changed. Public awareness towards corruption in the private sector has grown and they are less likely to tolerate such behaviour.'

A source from the Independent Commission Against Corruption said more cases within the government now involved misconduct such as accessing confidential information, as opposed to bribery.

Judges found these cases harder to preside over, he said. 'Usually, the defendants have not directly and immediately benefited from the misconduct, and it poses difficulties for the courts to assess the seriousness of the crimes,' the source said.

Mr Tong said the ICAC would contact political parties and the commercial sector next month to educate them on corruption prevention strategies before the Legislative Council election in September. Hongkongers with businesses on the mainland would also soon be able to use anti-corruption guidelines drawn up with Guangdong, while an interdepartmental group was working on guidelines to reduce corruption in building management.

The ICAC has a new 25-storey building in North Point. There are 30 advanced video interview rooms, each equipped with the watchdog's famous triangular interview table, two DVD cameras and six microphones for better interview quality.