• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 1:26pm
CommentInsight & Opinion
LEADER

ICAC must now regain public's trust after Timothy Tong saga

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 November, 2013, 3:54am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 November, 2013, 4:55pm

It has long been a foregone conclusion that Timothy Tong Hin-ming would be condemned for his misbehaviour when he led the Independent Commission Against Corruption. Yet no words are strong enough in light of the severe damage he has done to one of Hong Kong's pillars of success. His lavish wining and dining, luxurious gifts and questionable overseas trips - all paid by taxpayers without challenge for years - has undermined the watchdog's hard-earned reputation as one of the world's finest anti-graft agencies. The censure from Legco's Public Accounts Committee yesterday was a warning that the public takes government wrongdoings seriously.

The harsh words used to condemn Tong and the watchdog's community relations department - "deplore", "grave dismay", "inexcusable" - reflected the severity of the case and delivered a clear message that Tong and the department failed to adhere to the highest standards that were expected of them. Regrettably, Tong appears to be unrepentant. He challenged the committee to clarify what rules had been breached.

This is the second damning report, after a government-appointed probe found that rules had been breached on 42 occasions during Tong's five-year term. But the saga is far from over, as lawmakers are still pushing for another probe. Separately, a criminal investigation is ongoing. It is imperative for the government to pursue its responsibilities.

Equally important is future compliance. It is good that a plethora of recommendations have been made. But this is meaningless if those in charge of enforcement put themselves above the rules. The graft-buster and other public agencies should learn a lesson and strictly adhere to the rules.

It should be noted that the ICAC has done a great job over the past four decades. This was rightly recognised in the Legco report. The strong public reaction shows the community has high expectations of its performance. Only through restoring public confidence can the anti-corruption watchdog continue to do the job with public support.

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This article is now closed to comments

wwong888
so lets say the evil SHK kwok brothers eventually get off scott free. who was timothy drinking maotai with? the icac needs to be beyond reproachable. there is no turning back now. sad but true. we are one step closer to the arbitrary enforcement of corruption statutes which is the foundation of the communist party rule of law.
chuchu59
Well blow me down. This clown had the nerve to say that since he didnt break any rules he is not guilty of wrongdoing. When a former head of our anti-graft body acts like this no civil servant can be accused of wrongdoing as long as they claim no rules were breached. ICAC investigators can no longer prosecute anyone unless they breach rules which could be unclear. I hope DOJ prosecutes this clown. Those who knew he had erred but allowed him to get on with his extravagant ways shouldnt be excused too and yes I am referring to you Bowtie.
dynamco
he saw what number 1 & number 2 were getting away with & took the plunge
Misconduct in Public Office covers this behaviour
Tong
Tang
Bowtie
no-one is supposedly above the Law
village2206
No matter what has been said, the ICAC is now tarnished by this crone and a few other unknowns who must have been complicit. Dont hold your breath. Sad demise as there is the overwhelmingly vast group of Government people with genuine and honest commitment.
You only need one hole at a strategic part of a vessel to sink it.
caractacus
The word "Independent" must be put back into ICAC. The only way to do so is to employ a Commissioner who is not a career civil servant or crony of the administration, but an independent, outside law enforcement professional with a proven track record of independence, integrity and efficiency. This means someone not from China, but if from Hong Kong he/she must have statutory independence, have the power to investigate and prosecute ANYONE, even a Chief Executive, and have a budget free from political interference.
The Chief Executive of Hong Kong has far too extensive powers of appointment and patronage which are too often misused and abused.
caractacus
Tong followed the example of the senior official mindset in which the words integrity, ethics and accountability are a mystery.
They treat their own verbal pronouncements as if they were law and behave accordingly while our law enforcers are too confused and afraid to arrest and lock up the crooked b a s t a r ds.
Dao-Phooy
But he has declared himself to be a man of integrity-Strange this opinion isn't shared by the public!
Many of our 'top civil servants' need to reflect on their sense of entitlement. They already receive so much from the public purse but it's clearly not enough!
caractacus
For "top civil servants" also read "top appointed officials". It is they who are causing the rot in public standards. They cannot reflect on their sense of entitlement because they have no conscience or insight. They need to be kicked out or gaoled.
shouken
42 occassions of how much, HK$800 per person? That is the standard of lavish wining and dining in Hong Kong? Come on! Even a dim sum treat at a farewell party for our guest professor from Seattle comes down to $500 a person for me and my CUHK classmates, and none of us even had a beer. Alex Lo talks of the misappropriation of cultural revolution and the red guard mentality in HK. But I say the principle of red-guardism underlying the accusation remains the same: once the moral high-ground is occupied, grind your enemy to death! ........ Wow how people everywhere love morality! The gods love sucking blood, and poor Tong must be offered to the altar to placate them!

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