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  • Updated: 8:05am
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POLITICS

Duty visits of ex-ICAC chief put under spotlight

Timothy Tong spent three times the amount that his predecessors did on official trips

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 April, 2013, 4:46am
 

Lawmakers yesterday examined the expenses of the former head of the graft-busting agency, Timothy Tong Hin-ming, whose duty visits amounted to triple of what his predecessors spent.

Tong, who made frequent visits to the mainland while serving as commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption from 2007 to 2012, was this year appointed a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

At a special meeting of the Finance Committee yesterday, legal-sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, of the Civic Party, raised doubts over the necessity of Tong's trips.

Compared to Tong's predecessors, "his average expenditure [on duty visits] was triple … More than 10 of the courtesy calls were Beijing and Shanghai-bound. They were not for attending anti-corruption meetings.

"Some agencies were paid visits several times, like the State Council's Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office and the Supreme People's Procuratorate. Why was it necessary to call on those units so many times?"

Kwok said the frequency was "barely understandable".

Nineteen of Tong's 34 visits were to the mainland, ICAC data presented to the committee showed.

Tong's visits totalled HK$757, 921 over his five-year tenure, or an average of about HK$151,600 a year - about triple his three predecessors'.

Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong's trips cost about HK$39,100 during his 14-month term ending in August 2003. Raymond Wong Hung-chiu's visits amounted to about HK$60,700 a year for his term until October 2006.

During her nine-month tenure to June 2007, Fanny Law Fan Chiu-fun's trips cost HK$55,470.

Acting commissioner Ryan Wong Sai-chiu told lawmakers yesterday Tong's predecessors had also paid courtesy visits to mainland departments.

In general, the commissioner will discuss the need for duty visits with his three department heads with the final decision resting with the ICAC commissioner.

"During his five-year term, Commissioner Tong had more frequent contact with the mainland partly due to the establishment of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities in 2006," he said. The group is Beijing-based.

ICAC figures also showed that Tong gave gifts worth HK$220,000 to officials and government departments across all the visits he made over his five-year tenure.

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the sun also rises
This Timothy Tong,like his former boss, Sir Donald Tsang preferred travelling abroad using public fund on so-called duty visits/business trips.His expenditure might result in his final appointment to be a member of the CPPCC which is an honourable post---serving as an advisor to the PRC government and well-treated while crossing the border---can enjoy the V.I.P.passage and a China-Hong Kong licence plate plus free accommodation and air fare during each year's meeting of the CPPCC in Beijing.How nice it is to a retired senior civil servant !
asiaseen
An anti-corruption body giving $220,000 in "gifts" to mainland officials and departments?
ianson
Given that Hong Kong's greatest vulnerability to corruption is the participation of corrupt mainland officials in our economy, it's only right that the ICAC should be engaging with the mainland aggressively. The only questions is: was Tong furthering the means of investigation of crime or was he just getting cosy with Party officials, the very people we'd like to put behind bars.
ed_kwok
Don't our lawmakers have better things to do?

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