• Fri
  • Jul 25, 2014
  • Updated: 8:45pm
NewsHong Kong
EXPENSES SCANDAL

Former ICAC chief Timothy Tong defiant after Legco condemnation

Former ICAC chief asks lawmakers to spell out exactly which rules were broken as a 90-page document condemns 'deplorable' overspending

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 November, 2013, 1:28pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 November, 2013, 4:04pm

Former anti-corruption chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming hit back yesterday after lawmakers issued their strongest condemnation yet of what they termed his "deplorable" overspending.

The one-time commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption called on the Public Accounts Committee to spell out clearly what rules he had broken and insisted his integrity had not been compromised.

Tong was responding to a 90-page report by the committee that reprimanded him for "ignorance or total disregard" of the rules and described his spending on official entertainment - often involving mainland officials - gifts and trips as "inexcusable".

"Which specific rule have I breached and in what ways?" Tong asked in a written statement. "If there were any insufficiencies or mistakes they had … nothing to do with my personal integrity." He added that they were "totally irrelevant" to his appointment as a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

The committee said Tong's hosting of mainland officials who were not the ICAC's counterparts might have given rise to the perception that Tong "made use of his official capacity to build his personal network". It also said the serving of mao-tai, an expensive spirit favoured by officials and businessmen from the mainland, was unacceptable.

"Official business of the ICAC, which might be confidential in nature, could be divulged under the influence of alcohol," it said.

But Tong said he used mao-tai "to comply with the mainland culture of guest receptions at the time", adding: "If I had not intensified exchanges with the mainland, I would have fallen short of my duties."

Tong concluded: "No one is perfect, but no one is a complete catastrophe, either."

The ICAC's Community Relations Department drew stern criticism, including "grave dismay", for its slack monitoring of Tong's spending but its director, Julie Mu Fee-man, was not singled out in the report. She could still face scrutiny as ICAC chief Simon Peh Yun-lu said a "comprehensive" criminal probe was in progress. "All relevant departments, staff and non-staff will be included in the probe," Peh said in response to the report. "There may be some criminal outcome and some disciplinary actions for various people involved."

Despite differing statements given by Tong during the committee's hearings, vice-chairman Paul Tse Wai-chun said these were not tantamount to making false statements under oath.

"Making a false statement under oath is a very serious offence and the threshold to prove that is very high," Tse said.

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said yesterday: "The administration attaches great importance to the incident in order … to maintain public confidence in the ICAC."

The committee held its first public hearings in May, then a second round prompted by suspected discrepancies between Tong's Legco testimony and an independent report's findings.

 

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This article is now closed to comments

sipsip1238
No...you have not breached any rules Tong, and the government can't charge you for anything. But as the head of the ICAC, isn't it also your responsibility to do a rationale check on various entertainment and expenses practices instead of just embrace it?
If you wanted to abuse the entertainment expense account so much, get a job in sales in the private sector, or are you incapable of getting hired in the private sector either?
Seriously, Mr. Tong, you've already tarnished your reputation by your actions, there's no need to dig yourself deeper so that more **** can be thrown onto you.
mercedes2233
Tong is absolutely shameless quibbling over chapters and verses when his extravagance is so excessive. He has no conscience and no shame. How did he get appointed to this high position in the first place? Oh yeah, probably by a not-so-lily-white boss.
joyalsofi
"Tong concluded: 'No one is perfect, but no one is a complete catastrophe, either.'" What a ringing endorsement of himself!
wwong888
you know which chinese govn't organ likes to drink maotai the most? the PLA. what does this say about the ICAC. who was he drinking with? its a shame but he has single handedly destroyed the credibility of the ICAC. i can only assume he was ordered to do this by the CCP, for which he was rewarded with a NPC seat. next we just get rid of the ICAC, and then the commie thieves can ransack the city.
caractacus
"Which specific rule have I breached and in what ways?"
He is a thief. Period.
Yet he continues in his arrogance, such is the culture among senior appointed officials.
They just don't get the point that the law should apply to them as well as anyone else. The problem is that in reality it doesn't.
caractacus
It wasn't his money he spent on personal entertainment which had nothing to do with his job. It's called theft.
Let's see if he is yet another official who is treated as above the law.
Kubrick
This report demonstrates the inability of LEGCO to investigate and consider all the circumstances that led to the malpractice in ICAC. The report lays the blame solely at the door of TONG, and he is undoubtedly liable in many regards. What the report has failed to address is the culture in ICAC that allowed TONG to operate with impunity. It appears his subordinates, including the head of community relations, has fallen back on the 'I was only following orders' excuse. What I wish to know is why no one in ICAC had the moral courage to speak out and what does this say about the integrity of the ICAC as a whole. Does a culture of covering up exist in the ICAC? Why are ICAC staff afraid to speak out against malpractice? None of these questions were answered. The ICAC has tremendous powers, that if applied in an indiscriminate manner can destroy people. This incident has given an insight that the culture within the ICAC tolerates malpractice, which should be a grave concern to the whole community.
Beaker
I don't think condemnation works for someone who willingly broke rules and materially benefited from his overspending and gift giving (bribery). There should be tougher rules for criminal behavior at ICAC, just like there are for police committing crimes. Death by gunshot suits him fine.
caractacus
Not as bad as accepting free Cathay Pacific junkets to Europe in return for voting against the competition getting a licence?
Tong is the tip of the iceberg among our arrogant, unaccountable officials who regard law as applicable to those outside the magic circle of power. Nothing like a good dose of ICAC arrests and imprisonment to bring them into line, fat chance.
John Adams
Indeed YES!
Everything has gone very quiet about the CX junket ... which involved Albert - 'champion of democracy' - Ho, among notable others.

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