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  • Sep 2, 2014
  • Updated: 9:01pm
CommentInsight & Opinion

Hong Kong's graft watchdog needs to set good example

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 2:27am

Credibility and integrity are the foremost qualities we expect of our law enforcers. Anything short of the highest standards can undermine confidence in their work. For those charged with fighting bribery, expectations are even higher. Regrettably, the former chief of the Independent Commission Against Corruption has let down the public with questionable spending and practices. The stakes are high given the commission's role as a graft buster. It is imperative to find out the scale of the problem and prevent a reoccurrence.

There is no evidence to suggest law enforcement has been compromised. But it is disturbing to learn that Timothy Tong Hin-ming was particularly generous to mainland officials during his five-year tenure. More than two-thirds of the HK$220,000 he spent on gifts went across the border. The head of the Supreme People's Procuratorate, intriguingly, received the most gifts in different capacities, with the total value exceeding HK$8,000. Tong also exercised discretion to raise the spending cap when hosting dinners for visiting mainland officials at luxury hotels. This is in addition to similar problems unearthed by the Audit Commission. He also reportedly hosted numerous dinners for officials from the liaison office.

Restrictions on acceptance of gifts and entertainment are needed to ensure official duties will not be compromised by undue hospitality and illicit advantages. Tong's gifts and wining and dining of Chinese officials sit oddly with his anti-bribery portfolio. Questions have been raised as he was subsequently rewarded with a seat on the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. Little wonder that lawmakers are pursuing the case further, fearing the problems revealed by the auditors and the media are only the tip of an iceberg.

The excess reminds people of the extravagant official banquets that President Xi Jinping has cracked down on recently on the mainland. That a graft-fighting official here appears to have done the contrary is ironic. What is left to set Hong Kong apart if the watchdog fighting corruption is not seen as setting a good example?

Our clean government and fair business environment owe much to the efforts of a strong and credible anti-graft agency. For almost four decades, the commission has successfully established itself as an institution to be proud of. But it can hardly win support and confidence in its work unless it first puts its house in order.


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This article is now closed to comments

Three different comments all by the same person who also pressed "like" on his own posts. Can your ego get any bigger? How self important do you think you are?
the sun also rises
I advise this so-called 'bluechinagroup' to stop writing here since he just can never express himself/herself on a certain topic given by the editor or on a certain piece of news. Instead, he/she is too eager to query whether the postings here are written by a single person or more than one person which is itself meaningless and a waste of the precious space here in this Comment column !
the sun also rises
Yeah,most Hongkongers can hardly have any confidence in our graft-buster:the ICAC which its former commissioner,Timothy Tong Hin-ming (whose salary including fringe benefits was equal to nearly HK$ 300,000 during his five-year-long tenure which post was nominated by Sir Donald Tsang Yam-kuen) has been found to spend public money for private purposes:building up good relationship with senior Mainland officials plus senior staff at Liaison Office in Hong Kong so as to pave his way after retirement to become now a member of the CPPCC---the top advisory body in China)---an honorary post but enjoy privileges such as a cross-border licence plate, leave and arrive at the territory through VIP passage and free accommodation plus air fares provided every year during the meeting of the CPPCC in Beijing plus easy access to Mainland officials if doing any businesses there. In the past four decades (since 1974) the Commission has successfully built up itself as an institution to be proud of and a good example for both Taiwan,Mainland China and elsewhere in the whole world to follow suit. Now the ICAC has to put its own house in order before it can again gain the trust from the public and civil servants as well. Right ?
the sun also rises
of course,our graft body ought to set a good example against corruption of any types: no matter they are lavish meals, precious gifts (such as digital camera, precious stone handiwork or expensive cookies or dine with Moi Toi wine which costs HK$1,450 a bottle at 5-star hotel like Grand Hyatt Hotel in Wanchai using public money and even on occasions bring along one's girl friend or friends too ) Right ?
the sun also rises
totally agree with the editor that our law-enforcers should demonstrate credibility and integrity as their foremost qualities so as to let public have confidence in their work. Regarding to graft-busters,the standard is even higher (which explains it used to be very difficult to be hired by the ICAC---which requires good English standard and clean background) So this time,the disclosure of former ICAC head, Timothy Tong Hin-ming's over-spending on meals/feast with the Liaison Office officials (mainly two among them) and offering precious gifts to Mainland officials and local ones--the Liaison Office is a good thing in nature so as to make people be more alert on the monitoring body against corruption in our society. Rules should be strictly set from now on and the person to be appointed to such a sensitive post should be scrutinized more cautiously in the future.


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