HKU integrity course aims to rebuild trust

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 December, 2009, 12:00am

Governments, companies and public organisations should appoint integrity officers to police business ethics, a former anti-graft chief says.

Tony Kwok Man-wai, retired deputy commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, said people had lost confidence in businesses' ethics.

Kwok announced that University of Hong Kong's school of professional and continuing education (Space) would run a nine-day pilot course in business integrity in March. 'Why does a company need an integrity manager? Because the financial turmoil has called into question a lot of business ethics.'

Kwok said he hoped bodies would appoint certified institutional integrity officers (CIIOs).

'In combating corruption, one cannot simply rely on governments and anti-corruption agencies. Every citizen and organisation ... should have to participate and have to play a role. In the aftermath of the financial tsunami, the drumbeat of regulation and control has been getting louder in all societies. It will be an executive certificate course,' Kwok said. 'The current anti-corruption course is macro, about how a country can fight corruption. The one in March will be about how an organisation can maintain integrity in business ethics.'

Kwok, architect of both Space's anti-corruption course and the new programme, said he hoped all bodies would send auditors or other staff members and to be groomed as potential integrity officers. The course would be about setting standards and would focus on a range of issues, including conflict of interest. 'If you understand that, you understand a lot about integrity,' he said.

Where there was a culture of nepotism, there could be no integrity. 'People may say, 'Well, it's my job to help my relatives, there's nothing wrong with that'. But there's everything wrong with it.'

The same went for the practice of accepting gifts. The old days of people accepting lai see in return for favours or services were gone, he said.