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Ex-ICAC boss faces graft probe for allegedly dining out on public money

Former staffer submits written complaint about Timothy Tong's alleged misconduct to watchdog, with lawmakers set to follow

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 April, 2013, 8:31am

Former anti-graft chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming faces investigation by his former subordinates as new evidence suggests he used public money to treat officials from Beijing's liaison office.

The Democratic Party's Lam Cheuk-ting, who was an investigator for the Independent Commission Against Corruption when Tong was in charge, sent a written complaint to the ICAC yesterday about Tong's alleged misconduct and possible breaches of bribery laws. Pan-democrat lawmakers will submit complaints today.

Tong was said to have hosted receptions with liaison office officials at least 20 times during his five-year tenure using public funds, Ming Pao Daily reported yesterday. On some occasions, his girlfriend Dr Helen Chan Wing-mui, a former assistant director of immigration, and a friend, tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau, were invited, it was reported.

"As a former investigator, I have mixed feelings … Tong's own personal conduct is no reflection on the core values of other investigators," Lam said.

As a former investigator, I have mixed feelings … Tong's own personal conduct is no reflection on the core values of other investigators
Democratic Party's Lam Cheuk-ting

Zhang Xiaoming , director of the liaison office, said it was "very normal" for Tong to have hosted receptions with his officials, but he did not elaborate.

Lam questioned if Tong had discussed investigations with the liaison office, which would breach Section 30 of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. And taking friends to official meals would constitute misconduct in public office. Lam also said Tong could have breached Section 9 if he made up false invoices to cover his friends' meals.

ICAC commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu said it was gathering records on Tong's receptions with the office and would investigate whenever it received a corruption report.

"For the nine to 10 months I have been in office, I have not had meals with [officials of] the liaison office, nor have I sent any gifts to them," Peh said.

Asked if it was appropriate for Tong to bring a friend and girlfriend to official meals, Peh replied: "Official meals are only for people involved in the business."

It was earlier revealed that Tong had approved spending of more than HK$77,000 when hosting two lavish dinners for mainland officials. The amount spent on each individual exceeded HK$1,000 - well above the limit of HK$450. He also spent more than HK$154,000 on gifts to mainland officials, and HK$757,921 on 34 duty trips, 19 of them to the mainland.

Lam said the system should be reviewed and suggested the advisory committee on corruption, which oversees the ICAC's general work, monitor spending.

But Peh said overspending could be approved by the ICAC commissioner or department heads as long as they were self-disciplined.

Democratic Party lawmakers Emily Lau Wai-hing and James To Kun-sun urged Tong to attend a Legislative Council security panel meeting on the matter.

But panel chairman Ip Kwok-him, a Beijing loyalist, rejected the idea of summoning Tong, saying it was not a policy matter.



This article is now closed to comments

the sun also rises
Now it is up to our trusted Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) to launch a proper and detailed probe on its former commissioner,Timothy Tong who is suspected of using public money for personal enjoyment or building good relationships with Mainland officials even local Liaison Office officials who have no businesses directly related to the tasks of the ICAC at all ! Liaison Office is never a counterpart of the ICAC in the past and even now. The present Commissioner Mr.Peh claimed that he has never invited Liaison Office officials for lavish meals or given them gifts (not to say precious gifts ) and never offered them expensive cakes or cookies from Jenny Bakery while paying visits to Mainland ? To probe or not to probe, that is the question ! The decision made by the notorious political party,the DAB not to summon Mr.Tong to the Legco for questioning about his expenses of public money on feasts (which might be private dinners only since he used to bring along his girl friend, a Ms Chan along---at least ten times !) expensive gifts offered to Mainland officials and cakes given to them as gifts while paying visits there ! Maybe this wine-lover, a Moi Toi Club member was offered or given similar treatment while paying visits there No doubt, among his 34 external visits, over half of them were to the Mainland !
Come on folks... the poor Mr Tong was just greasing the wheels for his new, post HK Gov't career across the border. After all, he just wanted to see that his mainland "compatriots" were well fed in the manner of which they're accustomed.
This is about far, far more than meals and entertainment and the virus has spread far further than Timothy Tong. It is "guanxi" in its most sinister form which has buried and replaced what little transparency or accountability there was in Hong Kong public life. Hong Kong is now ruled by a dirty, corrupt, self- appointed elite of "insiders" who think the rule of law means those who are ruled have to obey and the rulers are above the law. The governance of Hong Kong stinks to the heavens.
Well said, Mr Lam Cheuk-Ting ~ Quote "As a former investigator, I have mixed feelings Tong's own personal conduct is no reflection on the core values of other investigators,". ~ Mr Timothy Tong is accountable for his own action and conduct, and as Head of ICAC his conduct or behaviour post many questions in the interest of ICAC and the people of Hong Kong. As a person privileged to be employed in the this esteemed organisation of the government did Mr Tong show himself to be reliable, trustworthy, of good conduct and character, and of complete and unswerving loyalty to the people of Hong Kong? Has the nature of the position and the degree of harm been caused by Mr Timothy Tong in his capacity as Head of ICAC? Is his conduct under closer scrutiny show that he is suitably fit in his capacity as Head of ICAC? These may apply to the former CEO of Hong Kong as such similar conducts were also reported.
the sun also rises
This Ip Kwok-him (who is the panel chairman of the Security panel of our Legco) is really too much to reject the idea of summoning Timothy Tong to the Legco on his over-spending on feasts and gifts to Mainland officials ( to buy favours so that he can become a member of the CPPCC today ?) during his five-year tenure as the head of the ICAC. This Ip Kwok-him can be called a good-for-nothing in our local political field though he is both one of the vice-chairmans of the DAB and a delegate to the NPC---the top legislature on Mainland plus a lawmaker in the territory. And he was a local middle school teacher before entering local politics too.His refusal to summon Tong to the Legco can never save the public image of the ICAC which has been tarnished by this greedy and corrupted Tong ! Right ?
Time to setup another organization - ICACITICAC - Independent Commission Against Corruption In The Independent Commission Against Corruption.
ICAC with "Chinese Characteristics"!
Some people are more equal than others. The elites in govt feel entitled to whatever perks they want at taxpayer expense. Just look at Donald's hotel bills as a glaring example. It's all corruption. One country one system would be a better description of our govt at the top.
Shouldn't we also blame the people who selected and appointed T. Tong for the commissioner job? Didn't they realise during the selection scrutiny process that he seems to have a problem to follow the rules by the letter and seems not to be above any suspicion in representing the principles of ICAC and what it stands for.


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