Sacked graft-buster Alex Tsui takes on challenging new role

Alex Tsui back in the spotlight playing ICAC officer in 'Cold War', 20 years after mystery exit

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 November, 2012, 5:45am

The dismissal of former top graft-buster Alex Tsui Ka-kit 20 years ago still remains a mystery to Hongkongers, but the controversial character is set to resume his duties - this time on film.

Speaking of his starring role in Cold War, released this Thursday, Tsui called it a "great and eye-opening" experience.

But when it came to his sacking by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in 1993, the former ICAC deputy director of operations was less forthcoming, saying it arose from "a political conflict" triggered by the city's return to China in 1997.

Details about Tsui's case have been scant, with the colonial government and the man himself not forthcoming about his departure at the time.

Tsui said he "still loved" the anti-graft body, and his experience helped him get comfortably into his Cold War role, as a senior ICAC officer.

"When the mind is set … the mouth speaks," he said. "I just acted as if I were working in the office and dealing with the problems in the usual way."

The film revolves around the government's efforts to locate a hijacked police van, and climaxes with the chaos at the top office - with two deputy police commissioners trying to impose their notions of law and order.

The anti-corruption body has been a pet subject among television and movie producers due to its thrilling and secretive nature.

But Tsui said the dramas were "like giving people candies" because they were largely a publicity stunt orchestrated by the government.

"Instead of relying on the shows, the ICAC should change its outdated public relations policies," he said. "When crises happen, you need men who dare to speak because the public is entitled to know. How can they monitor the government if they don't know?"

Tsui said that although there was much room for improvement, the anti-graft body was an important part of the city and had helped usher in the idea that corruption would not be tolerated.

Although he left the civil service nearly two decades ago, Tsui has never shunned the limelight.

He regularly delivers blunt commentaries on anti-corruption cases on television programmes, grooms Muay Thai athletes and helped form a political party.

He recently received the highest Thai boxing honour in Thailand. "Life never stops," Tsui said. "I'm using my expertise to contribute to society."

Tsui had co-founded the People's Opposition Party with nine others in May, with one of its objectives being to wipe out graft.

He failed in his run for a district council seat in Sheung Shui last year and his bid to become a lawmaker was also derailed when he failed to get the 100 nominations necessary to contest the Legislative Council election in September.