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  • Aug 23, 2014
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POLITICS

Canteen lunches for ICAC chief after excesses of predecessor

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 April, 2013, 10:43am

The city's top graft-buster said he would in future only host meals in the ICAC's canteen at around HK$200 a head after it emerged yesterday that his predecessor spent more than HK$77,000 on two banquets for visiting mainland officials.

Lawmakers proposed that the legislature investigate the former commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Timothy Tong Hin-ming, over his costly presents and receptions.

The two dinners were held in November and December 2010 in the five-star Grand Hyatt Hotel in Wan Chai. The bills totalled HK$77,100.

The first one was to entertain 36 officials, including Cao Jianming, prosecutor-general of the Supreme People's Procuratorate. Tong approved the consumption of five bottles of moutai liquor, each costing HK$1,450.

In the second dinner, 28 officials were treated, including Wei Hong, who was then the deputy governor of Sichuan. Average spending per head was HK$1,150 and HK$1,275, well above the limit of HK$450.

Last week the audit report revealed two other cases of overspending on lavish meals by Tong during his five-year tenure.

Commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu expressed concern that staff morale would be affected by the revelations and said he would set out guidelines on gifts, meals and official visits.

We already have close ties with our [mainland] counterparts. We will discuss with them first, suggesting that we do not exchange gifts

"We already have close ties with our [mainland] counterparts. We will discuss with them first, suggesting that we do not exchange gifts," he said.

If such exchanges were unavoidable, Peh said, he would give out the commission's annual report and promotional video. Other possible gifts included shields and crystal models bearing the ICAC logo and not exceeding HK$400 in value.

Papers released by Legco on Tuesday also showed that Tong spent more than HK$154,000 on gifts to officials in mainland government departments and their related agencies in Hong Kong.

He also spent HK$757,921 on duty visits, with 19 of 34 trips during his tenure being to the mainland, ICAC data shows.

Lawmaker Emily Lau Wai-hing urged Legco's security panel to invite Tong to explain the matter, saying he had "tarnished the image of ICAC and damaged officers' morale".

She said that a source had told her that Tong had hosted "countless" meals with liaison office officials.

Lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan said she would use Legco's powers and privileges ordinance to summon Tong.

The audit commission said it would keep in view the matter and consider follow-up reviews if necessary.

Peh said he would co-operate with any inquiry.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

rpasea
Why does the ICAC need to host any meals? Meetings with mainland officials can take place in the ICAC office during normal office hours. Did all gift recipients report these gifts or can they be considered as offering an advantage?
ianson
Hong Kong should lead by example by not handing over anything to mainlanders. Culturally, that's a big jarring but that's at the heart of the ICAC's role: eliminate the psychology of corruption. So gifts and dinners should be eliminated completely for the ICAC.
the sun also rises
yeah,fully agree with lawmaker Cyd Ho Sau-lan that the Legco members should use the Powers and Priveleges Ordinances to summon this former head of our ICAC,corrupted Timothy Tong Hin-ming to the Legco to explain his over-spending on meals and gifts offered to visiting Mainland officials by using public coffers ! Besides,it is revealed that Timothy Tong used to go to his office not earlier than 11 o'clock every morning and his subordinates had to make use of the time period:11:00 a.m.to 1 p.m.to discuss with him any important business as he was not available after 1 p.m. since he had to take a long nap after lunch (with his favourite Moi Toi of course) and then left his office for luxurious dinners ! What an eviable job indeed for our head of ICAC in his 5-year tenure by working just 2 hours every day !!
howyadoin
Completely unethical and a terrible precedent. The ICAC should be leading by example and showing China how NOT to be corrupt, not partaking in questionable gift-giving. If in doubt, don't give.
How can anyone expect Chinese officials to not be corrupt, when they see they see the Head of the ICAC - HK's supposed anti-corruption police - giving out expensive gifts and dinners?! Absolutely ridiculous.
Timothy Tong should issue a public apology and the HK govt should show some backbone and prosecute this guy - make it clear to the world that not even the former Head of the ICAC can get away with corrupt activities. That would really embolden HK's claim to be one of the most corruption free societies in the world.
ninacheung
Outrageous. He should be held accountable and made pay back the excesses from his own pocket.
daily
So this ex - ICAC's main job duty was to entertain and wine and dine other offiials with the public's money, while his department is suppose to catch others who are corrupted........sounds quite a joke........summon this guy and make him answer to his lavish spending.......he's more corrupted than the criminals that the ICAC are chasing.
22gt7
I think ICAC should now send a circular about its policy on gifts, meals and official visits to every Mainland Chinese officials for their record and put up advertisement in China from time to time reminding the public of this policy!
caractacus
There is something rotten in the state of Hong Kong. This is not an isolated example but a symptom of a much more widespread disease in our system of governance. Senior civil servants would not dare behave in such a manner if there was a vestige of integrity in the administrative and political leadership. We are being ruled at the whims of amoral tycoons, corrupt politicians and officials who think that ethics and the the law are something applicable only to others who are outside the magic circle.
Characteristically, like other cronies of the Motherland with questionable pasts, he has been appointed a member of the CPPCC, for which it seems the only qualification is subservience.
the sun also rises
I think our trusted and respected ICAC which was set up in 1974 by the then Governor Sir McLehose to combat the then rampant corruption in town should review its communication measures with its counterparts on Mainland------------fewer meals or feasts and no more exchange of gifts worth more than HK$400 since any businesses can be discussed in ICAC's office within office hours ! And there should be a better monitoring mechanism of the ICAC head appointed by the Chief Executive.It is known that this corrupted Timothy Tong is a favourite of former Chief Executive,Sir Donald who appointed the former in 2007 to succeed Mr.Wong Hung-chiu as the Commissioner of the graft-buster.
Dai Muff
Really, I am surprised this is news to anyone at the ICAC. Surely alarm bells should ring as soon as you are handing out largesse that you would eagerly prosecute Hong Kong's OWN civil servants for accepting?

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