Public Eye

CY is right - ICAC is being used as a political tool

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 21 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 August, 2013, 3:50am

Public Eye dares anyone to look in the mirror and say "no" if asked this: is the ICAC being used as a political tool? Of course it is. Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying got slammed for urging politicians not to misuse the Independent Commission Against Corruption. But someone had to say it.

The ICAC's glory days were when it chased corrupt cops and officials and crooked businessmen around the world to bring them to justice.

And what does it do now? Waste time and public money on frivolous complaints by politicians.

What do you call it when political parties alert the media before marching up to ICAC headquarters to make unproven allegations, then name the people they have targeted in front of television cameras?

That's using the ICAC as a tool to tarnish political adversaries. Targeted foes are publicly smeared before their guilt is even proven. Look at what happened to Franklin Lam Fan-keung. Media reports alleged he used insider information as an Executive Council member to profit from property sales. He denied this, and available facts at the time backed him up.

But politicians used the phoney claims to get at CY by filing an ICAC complaint against Lam. The agency cleared Lam, but his name had been so soiled he decided to quit Exco.

Former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is still under ICAC investigation more than a year after he retired. And for what? Politicians alleged corrupt collusion because he hobnobbed with tycoons on their private planes and yachts.

A leader hobnobbing with tycoons is politically stupid but not a crime. You are corrupt only if you granted government favours in return. No clear evidence shows Tsang did that. But he has been tarred and feathered.

Has the ICAC been turned into a political tool? You bet.


An apology on behalf of those who wronged Lam

Pan-democrats mocked CY Leung for calling for an apology from people who complained to the ICAC about Franklin Lam. They accused him of trying to silence suspicions of corruption.

Of course we need to root out corruption. The ICAC is duty-bound to investigate complaints. But those who make such complaints should at least base them on facts. And the decent thing to do is to presume a person innocent until proven guilty. Making a big show of filing a complaint, with cameras rolling, reeks of politics.

Public Eye does not know Lam, but if it is any consolation, we will apologise on behalf of people who wronged him yet are not man enough to say sorry. And it is time the ICAC either charged Donald Tsang or declared him innocent. It is not fair making the man live under a cloud for so long.


Time for Legco to cool it over housing measures

Are memories really that short? Mere months ago, politicians left, right and centre were accusing the government of doing nothing while property prices soared beyond affordable levels. The Leung administration responded with a series of cooling measures.

So what do the politicians do? They fold their arms, refusing to approve the measures in Legco. Some are even demanding the government scrap or water down the measures just because property agents and their bosses, who reaped big bucks by fanning speculation when the market was hot, are complaining of shrunken wallets. Go ahead, scrap the measures. Prices will go crazy within weeks. Ordinary families will be hit hard. Even rents in subdivided flats will soar. Legislators who want this will have to live with their consciences.

Michael Chugani is a columnist and broadcaster.