Pan-democrats try new plan to start ICAC probe

Lawmakers file unprecedented petition for searching investigation of former commissioner

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 May, 2013, 5:45am

Two pan-democratic lawmakers who have been unsuccessful in triggering a Legislative Council inquiry into the former ICAC chief's allegedly lavish spending on meals with mainland officials are likely to win support for another inquiry tomorrow.

The Labour Party's Cyd Ho Sau-lan and the Civic Party's legal-sector lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang, are pushing an unprecedented petition for an inquiry into the conduct of former ICAC commissioner Timothy Tong Hin-ming.

They said that an inquiry panel - if one is even appointed - would not have the power to summon witnesses, but that it was still worth a try.

"Given the serious allegations that have surfaced through the various channels … we believe the current matter warrants the use of this procedure," Kwok said.

Given the serious allegations that have surfaced through the various channels … we believe the current matter warrants the use of this procedure

The inquiry would also help "to fully look at the whole matter from different angles", he said.

Last Friday, Legco's House Committee vetoed the pair's plan to invoke special powers to investigate the controversy, and that plan is likely to be vetoed again tomorrow if the minority pan-democrats follow convention by tabling a motion and putting the matter to a vote.

But instead of going ahead with a doomed effort to get a motion passed, Ho and Kwok have chosen to present a petition, as it requires the backing of only 20 lawmakers.

The petition was filed with Legco president Jasper Tsang Yok-sing yesterday.

Ho said she was confident that the petition would be backed by the Labour, Civic and Democratic parties, with 16 seats, as well as independent pan-democrats.

At least three pan-democrats have lodged complaints with the Independent Commission Against Corruption, alleging misconduct in public office and breaches of bribery laws by its former commissioner.

Snubbing calls for an independent inquiry, the government announced last Thursday that a review committee would look at the corruption watchdog's regulations on entertainment expenses.

The Public Accounts Committee will now hold a hearing on May 18 at the earliest, focusing on ICAC's general policies and two apparently extravagant dinners that Tong approved.

Committee member and lawmaker Ng Leung-sing said Tong had told the Legco secretariat that he would "help with the investigation".

The committee will confirm whether or not Tong is available on May 18.