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PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 27 April, 2013, 5:22am

Panel needed to look into former ICAC chief's spending

Plenty at stake if zero tolerance of corruption is not shown and if doubts over expensive banquets and gifts to mainland officials are not cleared

Dear Leung Chun-ying,

You promised us a clean government upon your victory in the Chief Executive's election.

You have told us many times the stories of your policeman father, a man so clean that as a boy you and your mum had to make plastic flowers to make ends meet.

Yet, more than a week after the public has been told of expensive banquets and gifts showered on mainland officials by our former top graft-fighter Timothy Tong Hin-ming, you have not said a word.

For the good of yourself and Hong Kong, this silence must end.

Put together a high-level committee to investigate this accusation and review the internal controls of the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Show zero tolerance of corruption.

It won't be an easy call.

Your advisers are not short of conspiracy theories behind the detailed revealing in the media of Tong's misbehaviour.

Tong has been retired for almost a year now so what took the whistle-blower so long to act? Why didn't the media say anything until Tong was appointed to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference by Beijing last month?

Who is the "boss" of Tong in Hong Kong and Beijing? Who and what is the real target of the whistle blower?

Is it a plot by the liberal camp to undermine Beijing's authority? What role does the chief executive of the Democratic Party, who happened to have worked at the ICAC during Tong's tenure, play in this?

You must have heard some of these questions, I know I have.

They said Tong's HK$1,200 per head banquet, HK$4,100 worth of stone sculptures and mooncakes for mainland officials were too "cheap" to be considered bribes on the mainland. Mooncakes are cut up not to be eaten but to check for gold and diamonds, so the saying goes.

Or as one of your allies put it: "You can't buy a CPPCC seat with a piece of stone. It costs millions of yuan."

In short, the political stake at risk is too high while the "guilt" of Tong is too trivial to justify any action.

We have heard Zhang Xiaoming, the director of the Central Government Liaison Office, saying that "it's normal" for Tong to buy his staff more than 22 banquets over five years with public money.

This is only a month after Zhang issued a directive to his staff of going to fewer banquets and accepting no gifts as part of President Xi Jinping's anti-corruption drive.

We have heard legislators with Beijing affiliation saying they "saw no urgency" in discussing the scandal in the legislature and in setting up a select committee to investigate it as proposed by the liberals.

This measurement of cost and guilt cannot be more erroneous.

No political cost is too high to pay when it comes to fighting corruption in Hong Kong. This is the last competitive advantage Hong Kong has and the last thing our men and women are proud of.

No guilt is heavier than a top graft-buster bending the rules to shower someone with goodies.

Who benefited from them, how much did they cost, and whether Tong gained any advantage in return does not matter.

Tong had been able to buy banquets, mao-tai liquor and gifts for "business contacts" in the name of the commission of his own free will. He had them paid for with public money by playing with the numbers.

The spending on bird's nest and cookies was withheld from legislators' scrutiny by the commission because "they are not classified as gifts".

This has brought into doubt not just the integrity of Tong but that of the ICAC as well as your promise to keep Hong Kong clean.

Unlike the illegal structure at your home, this will not be forgotten as the media gets busy.

It will be raised by the men and women in the commission when asked to stay another hour to go through more documents.

It will be raised by a young accountant when offered a handsome bribe to sign off on a cooked-up book.

It will be raised by a young fund manager when asked to buy some stakes in a faulty mainland firm in return for a rebate.

It will be raised by our competitors who will not hesitate to portray us as just another corrupted mainland city.

Only bold action from you can remove the doubt and help young men and women to say no to temptation.

It takes courage to put politics aside. It takes courage to fight corruption. Your predecessor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen may not be a good example of this.

Yet, he had the decency to ask retired chief justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang to head an independent committee to look into his own wrongdoing and advise on further scrutiny when caught receiving favours such as the yacht trip and a cheap flat.

That is the least you could do.

 

shirley.yam@scmp.com

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This article is now closed to comments

John Adams
Seems the private sector - or at least some good companies in the private sector ( like ours) are cleaner even than the ICAC : certainly cleaner than the govt based on the high-profile court cases coming up, not to mention D Tsang's many ****-gate escapades. The rule in our office is that if a service provider or a contract hotel even gives us a box of chocolates at Christmas or some moon cakes they are shared around all the staff and I as MD personally can never accept any such gift . If gifts cannot be shared around they go into the Christmas lucky draw ( in which I as MD am not allowed to participate)
One of the reasons our company keeps its financial HQ in HK ( rather than in China) is precisely because we have the ICAC to watch our backs. If the integrity of the ICAC itself is called into question we are really on a slippery downward and irreversible path and finally it will become one country / one system with the Mainland;s standards of corruption as the lowest common denominator.
Shirley : please do post a copy of this op-ed to CY personally and insist on an open reply to the SCMP.
hard times !
this whymak is trying his/her utmost to mislead the public by underestimating the damages of the Tong Corruption Gate which have caused Hong Kong's good image as being a clean city for decades due to the efforts of our pride:the ICAC ! Being the former head of the graft-buster, Tong himself should set a good example,as lawmaker Ip Lau Suk-yee said,' be whiter than a white paper !' yet this wine-maniac (the advisor of the so-called Friends of the Moi Tai') ,Timothy Tong is said to have spent over HK$100,000 on buying expensive wines to well-treat visiting Mainland senior officials so as to buy favours after his retirement (to pave the exit ) maybe ! What a shame ! Yet this brainless or malicious guy down below named 'whymak' is worse than Timothy Tong by attempting to divert people's attention to the local pan-democrats and even call them democracy fanatics while he/she him/ herself is definitely a blind loyalist of an autocratic corrupted ruling regime ! A slave-servant only ! Right ?
hard times !
yeah,at least the Leung administration should promptly set up a committee (as he used to do during the past nine months) to look into the case of Timothy Tong whose acts had seriously damaged the good reputation ot ICAC and tarnished Hongkongese's confidence in it which used to be the pride of our society and our last thing to be different from other major cities on Mainland.How could the head of a graft-buster himself be a corrupted one ? it is just incredible and beyond any wild imaginations ! Right ?
austinjosa
Well said, Shirley. What's really needed however is a root-and-branch investigation into corruption/misconduct. Donald, Henry, Rafael, Timothy etc etc - the rot needs to be stopped before it's too late.
hard times !
absolutely agree with Shirley that no guilt is heavier than being a graft-buster but bend the rules to shower someone who are in power (in order to get benefits after retirement-------it is learnt that this Timothy Tong was eyeing the post of secretary for security in 2012 when Leung administration comes into being) with goodies.Well said ! Shirley !
hard times !
In most readers' eyes,the most illerate Chinese here who keeps on barking at other writers is nobody but you ---the nastiest guy in our society who just cannot focus on the comment/ news given above and present your views but just intend to screen out others from presenting their views only ! How dare you ! We Hongkongese enjoy freedom of speech and expression ! Don't you know ? Here is Hong Kong and not Shenzhen or Shanghai which disallow freedom of speech or expresision and there is censorship on the internet as well ! Go and meet Marx or Chairman Mao the sooner the better---the slave-servant of autocratic regime !
hard times !
yeah, our chief executive,C.Y.Leung has to take bold action this time to remove the doubts cast over our once-respected and trusted anti-corruption,graft-buster:the ICAC which is well-known in the world for its fighting against corruptions either in the civil service or business sectors or public corporations.The 39-year-long institution's good fame should never be damaged by the over-greedy and corrupted Timothy Tong---a favourite (and drunkard) of former Chief Executive,Sir Donald Tsang Yam-kuen whose former residence (the Government House) was found to store cartons of Moi Tai wine (given to him ) when he and his wife had to move out before 30th June 2012. This pair of true brothers,like Donald and Mr. Rafeal **** Sze-yan's, are greedy and corrupted top civil servants (awaiting to be charged or tried ) had for a long time , envied the lives led by local tycoons and those on Mainland who used to lead luxurious lives:expensive wine,banquets,gifts and foodstuff such as cookies,mooncakes and bird's nest plus...
hard times !
I fully agree that.' no political cost is too high to pay when it comes to fighting corruption here in Hong Kong which is used to be proud of our ICAC---a 39-year-long institution which is known for its efforts in curbing corruption in town and instilling anti-corruption perception into Hongkongers' minds----------Hong Kong will never be Hong Kong again if there is no ICAC ! How proud and prestigious this institution once was ! But not now ! After the 5-year-long rule of greedy and courrupted Timothy Tong Hin-ming (who might be a Christian or Catholic) in that graft-buster ! How disappointed most Hongkongese are these days ! But where is this coward who should come out to defend himself or ask for excuses while facing all Hong Kong citizens and his past colleagues ? I wonder.
dynamco
"Your predecessor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen may not be a good example of this."
Ah yes, Donald Tsang / misconduct in public office / Macaufreeroomgate/ private jetgate/ tobacco tycoon yachtgate (2 weeks after no tobacco tax increase in the budget)/ retirement apartmentgate/ tycoongate /60k per night hotel rooms / nothing done along with Edward Yau to clean our air during his tenure ?
so it appears we now have the black pot investigating the kettle?
hard times !
this whymak should stop talking nonsense here to defend not Tong Hin-ming but his offers of lavish meals to visting Mainland officials (who used to dine luxuriously and received expensive gifts while paying visits elsewhere from their home cities/towns) and giving them gifts above the limits set by the ICAC iftself ! Rampant corruptions and corrupted lives led by cadre officials are no news to all the world with better knowledge of Mainland situations ! I myself heard from my relatives living in a coatal small city and even from retired cadres or working cadres themselves !

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