Dragging the ICAC into a conspiracy theory harms all of Hong Kong
Recent management changes at the highest levels of the city’s graft-buster are newsworthy but the ‘hate CY’ brigade have taken things too far
The ICAC’s reputation has taken a hit recently. But rather than outside political interference, it’s opportunistic critics and politicians who are to blame.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption suffered a series of management mishaps last month. The seismic changes at the top are significant and newsworthy but such internal management and personnel shake-ups happen at any large organisation. But the “hate Leung Chun-ying” camp immediately seized on the personnel changes to politicise them.
In late July, the anti-graft agency announced that Ricky Yau Shu-chun, the acting head of its powerful operations department, was quitting, only to issue a second statement hours later that Yau would stay in his job after all. The public relations fiasco followed the controversial departure of the ICAC’s first female head of operations, Rebecca Li Bo-lan.
The city’s rumour mills went into high gear, linking her resignation to alleged soft-pedalling of an ongoing investigation into a HK$50 million deal between Leung and Australian engineering firm UGL.
Critics have offered no evidence to link the two events, their dissatisfaction stemming from the probe being ongoing instead of laying charges against Leung. For surely that is the only outcome acceptable to the “hate CY” crowd and the only conclusion that would vindicate the ICAC’s credibility in their eyes.
Adding fuel to the fire, Project Citizens Foundation and Hong Kong 2020, the pro-democracy think tank headed by former chief secretary Anson Fang On-sang, organised a forum called “Assault on the ICAC and the Rule of Law?”
They might as well get rid of the question mark in the title.
No wonder former ICAC commissioner Bertrand de Speville, who took part in the forum, confessed fears that he was stepping into a hornets’ nest. He came to the defence of the agency, saying it was highly unlikely outside interference was at play in Li’s departure.
His defence followed that of the ICAC Retired Officers Association. These former officers have nothing to gain and no political agenda to sell other than the ICAC’s reputation and independence.
Leung’s HK$50 million payment deserves a public accounting. So let the ICAC get on with its probe and stop second-guessing it. Attempts by those who want to bring down Leung and discredit his administration by any means, including casting doubt on the ICAC, do serious harm not only to the agency, but to Hong Kong itself.