Hong Kong's anti-graft body carries out all probes fairly and impartially
In response to Jake van der Kamp's column ("Pay climbs at ICAC despite overstaffing and wheelspin", July 19), I would like to make the following clarifications.
All Independent Commission Against Corruption investigations start with corruption allegations. In the course of an investigation, other criminal activities which were connected with or facilitated by corruption are often unearthed. The ICAC is empowered by law and is obligated to investigate these criminal offences.
All investigations are carried out fairly and impartially, regardless of the background and social status of the persons involved. Should evidence be revealed in the course of the investigation, legal advice will be sought from the Department of Justice, which will decide on prosecutions and the charges to be laid.
Corrupt activities have become more secretive and transnational in nature, making investigations more complex and time-consuming than ever.
Moreover, with the transfer of funds relevant to criminal activities swiftly done through overseas companies and/or financial institutions, the ICAC faces unprecedented challenges that keep adding to the burden of the commission's resources.
The actual staff numbers of the ICAC stood at 1,352 as at July 1, whose pay level is largely similar to that of the civil service. These 1,300-odd staff members represent the dedicated men and women graft fighters from the three departments of the ICAC - operations, corruption prevention and community relations. Investigation is only one limb of our three-pronged strategy. Over the past four decades, community education and corruption prevention have proved equally important. All in all, one should not underestimate the huge intangible value of keeping Hong Kong a corruption-free city. It helps strengthen the rule of law and sustain Hong Kong as a global financial centre.
Many countries in the world are eager to pay for such an anti-corruption regime but have found it not as easy as they have thought. It is not easy because this is not a system that money alone could maintain.
Sustaining this much-envied system and our hard-earned reputation is the high integrity level and a probity culture shared by Hong Kong people nowadays. We have come a long way from the "dark old days". It is the ICAC's job to pass this fine culture on to our future generations.
Charmaine Mok Ling-man, acting principal communications and media relations officer, Independent Commission Against Corruption