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  • Aug 30, 2014
  • Updated: 7:11pm
NewsHong Kong
CORRUPTION

Overspending 'was not a sin', Timothy Tong Hin-ming tells select committee

Former anti-corruption chief admits regret but says he is not guilty of greed or corruption

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 January, 2014, 5:33am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 January, 2014, 5:33am

Former anti-corruption chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming yesterday told a Legislative Council select committee hearing he was aware of "imperfections and inadequacies" during his tenure, but said his overspending "was not a sin".

Tong was bombarded with questions about his spending on official entertainment as he faced lawmakers for the sixth time. But the former commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption said he had nothing else to say.

"I fully recognise the importance of Legco … and the ICAC," a distressed Tong said. "But about the same matter, what more can I say?"

It was unclear whether he would attend the next meeting, scheduled for March 1, of the committee, which was set up to investigate him in addition to an inquiry by Legco's Public Accounts Committee.

Responding to the latter's damning report, published in November, which reprimanded Tong for "deplorable" overspending and "ignorance or total disregard of rules", he came close to tears.

"I worked hard [as ICAC commissioner]. There were imperfections and inadequacies. The saga has brought me a great measure of regret over the past few months," said Tong, now a delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. "But this is not a sin … it has got nothing to do with greed or corruption."

Despite the Legco committee's 90-page report, which detailed Tong's spending, and another, independent committee report, lawmakers still challenged Tong about whether his spending of public money was intended to nurture his political ambitions.

Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok Wing-hang asked: "During your visits did you meet mainland officials who are CPPCC delegates to eat and drink with them?"

Tong replied: "The answer is yes. But it has nothing to do with the CPPCC appointment."

The former commissioner revealed he consumed an average of 12 bottles of red wine and two bottles of strong spirits per month during his tenure, but emphasised this "had no effects" on his handling of confidential files.

He reiterated that he upheld rules for the receipt of gifts, but admitted having "no recollection" as to whether he had filed records of all presents he had received during special occasions, such as his birthday.

Tong has been accused of overspending on gifts, travel and entertaining mainland officials.

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This article is now closed to comments

Byebye
Goodness, doesn't he realise he was the head of ICAC? Its other people's (the tax payers) money. Please don't play innocent. Charge him please, HK Authority.
besselsleigh
The anger of your contributors is both justified and perfectly understandable BUT please do not demonise the whole ICAC workforce, most of whom would have had absolutely no knowledge of what this Commissioner was doing. ICAC has been a stalwart force against corruption for Hong Kong society for some 40 years and it continues that role today despite this quite awful
debacle. Lets have a balanced and fair appraisal and think carefully about matters. James Buckle - former ICAC Deputy Commissioner.
johnyuan
I am not sure ‘it was not a sin’ is a translation from Tong’s Chinese uttering. If he did say it to mean sin he may have a point. Likely most government officials are home grown people – attended either a protestant or more likely a catholic school before graduating from Hong Kong University. So Tong is making his deepest understanding from his religious experience. He will not say it is a crime because there is no law specifically saying overspending limit. Even that, the rule hasn’t say it is a crime if you over spent. So the remaining standard of conduct Tong can evoke is if it is a sin. I agree with him ‘it was not a sin’ that the 10 commandments make no reference to overspending. It does however mention that ‘Thou shall not steal’. How about that to convince or convict him?
.
I am beginning to shed my respect for ICAC because it is ineffective for the collusions between government and the property developers over the years. Improve standard and make collusion a crime.
johnyuan
Hong Kong practices collusion to circumvent corruption. Collusion is legal yet its effect is as bad or even more than corruption. The ICAC is not catching up with the time. I know it has a very big operating budget (world’s largest) and if the agency can’t expand its work to include collusion, Hong Kong is wasting its money on the agency.
.
Dine and drink may be the order of day’s work that corruption cases are no where to be found.
.
CY Leung must reform ICAC. Make it relevent with the time.
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mercedes2233
Enough talk. Now arrest him for abuse of power among other things and make him repay the money he had wasted. If the CPPCC still want him after his prison term, it is welcome to him.
chaz_hen
It's not a sin if it's not your money you're spending...
mercedes2233
It's not a sin if it's your money you are spending. It's a sin if you are spending other people's money without their knowledge or consent. And we do not give consent.
chuchu59
If what this moron says is correct then the work of the ICAC will be severely hampered. People could say they are not wrong in awarding lavish contracts to companies, buying expensive articles as gifts for others is not corruption blah blah blah. This guy has no shame whatsoever.
sipsip1238
Why the fk is this guy still speaking...
I'd start investigating the people directly under him because given his behaviours during his tenor, I'm sure his direct reports will have a twisted view of what is an appropriate way of spending tax payers money.
ICAC is suppose to serve the public, it's not an expense account for you to live lavishly like a banker (even bankers live less on company expenses now.)
If he was so intent on spending an expense account, try getting a job in the private sector, but it's also obvious from his constant ignorance that he would not be able to maintain a private sector job.
Dao-Phooy
The arrogance of the man was plain for all to see! He still doesn't get it - he still is defiant in his sense of entitlement. No shame - only self pity as he hangs on to his CPPCC appointment. Who do you represent on that body Mr Tong and why would anybody value your views as being representative of HK people? You are a total disgrace - please spare us your crocodile tears!

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