Former head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption Timothy Tong Hin-ming on Wednesday refuted accusations that two of his duty visits to the mainland contained excessive non-official activities.
Tong was facing a grilling by legislators on the public accounts committee about inconsistencies between his previous testimony in the Legislative Council on ICAC spending during his reign and that of the findings of an independent review committee on the same subject.
In the review committee’s report, Tong was also criticised for adding sightseeing trips to Lijiang and Leshan in Yunan while on two duty visits to the province in 2009 and 2010.
The report, published two weeks ago, also detailed Tong’s lavish spending on official entertainment, gifts and other official trips during his five-year tenure.
At Wednesday’s meeting, Tong admitted that the excursions to Lijiang and Leshan were added after he obtained approval by then chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen for the Yunan trips.
But Tong refuted the accusation that the visits were for own his leisure. “I disagree these were for leisurely purpose,” he said.
“The decision to add Lijiang to the itinerary was made at a rather late stage ... Lijiang is part of Yunan and so the chief executive’s approval of my trip to Yunan covered Lijiang.”
Maverick legislator Wong Yuk-man demanded Tong explain what the tours to Lijiang and Leshan had to do with the ICAC’s anti-corruption work.
Tong replied: “An earthquake hit Lijiang a few years prior to the trip. Afterwards, there were rebuilding works, which had special relevance.”
In May, Tong attended three of the five Legco hearings convened to investigate his alleged spending on entertainment as ICAC commissioner between 2007 and last year. Other witnesses who testified at the time included ICAC’s current chief Simon Peh Yun-lu.