CORRUPTION

Lawmakers to condemn ex-ICAC boss Timothy Tong for 'deplorable' waste

Lawmakers all set to denounce in the strongest terms the 'deplorable' overspending by Hong Kong's former anti-corruption chief

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 5:13am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 November, 2013, 4:49pm

Lawmakers are set to condemn former anti-corruption chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming in the strongest terms for his "deplorable" overspending.

A report to be submitted to the Legislative Council by its public accounts committee on November 27 will denounce Tong for "incompetency" after revelations about lavish spending on official entertainment, gifts and trips at the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

One member of the accounts committee said: "The report will pinpoint Tong's role as the graftbuster's former head. His lack of understanding of the rules and the breaches led us to question and condemn his incompetency in leadership and governance of the ICAC.

"We will be using very strong wording … including 'deplorable' and 'condemn'."

"Condemn" is the strongest wording used in earlier committee reports; more lenient criticisms included "regret" and "concern".

An 81-page report published by an independent review committee in September detailed 42 rule breaches by Tong in his five-year reign.

Members said that while the Legco committee had taken reference from the independent report, it would use the unprecedented term "deplorable" specifically over three breaches - making separate claims for alcohol and entertainment, buying luxury gifts and abusing duty visits for non-official activities.

The committee held its first public hearings in May, followed by a second round prompted by suspected discrepancies between Tong's Legco testimony and the independent report's findings. The committee held a final meeting on Friday.

The community relations department - the only one of the graftbuster's three departments that claimed alcohol expenses separately from entertainment - is also condemned, although its director, Julie Mu Fee-man, is not singled out.

"But the department and related ranks will [receive] adverse comments - although to a lesser extent compared with those for Tong," the lawmaker said.

Mu was criticised during the Legco public hearing for slack monitoring of Tong's expenses.

The member added that former assistant immigration director Dr Helen Chan Wing-mui - widely reported to be Tong's girlfriend - is also named in the report over allegations that Tong had taken her to official dinners sponsored by public money.

A second committee member said the word "condemn" was used about Tong mostly, "but once or twice when commenting on the community relations department". The lawmaker added that it was a unanimous decision to use "deplorable" in condemning Tong.

Some sections of the independent report were concealed in the public version, "pending conclusion of relevant criminal investigation or prosecution". It is understood that none of the Legco report will be concealed.