ICAC commissioner plays down removal of ethics body head Song Lin

As it celebrates its 40th anniversary, the anti-corruption body is quiet about Song Lin

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 April, 2014, 6:33am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 April, 2014, 9:49am

Hong Kong's anti-corruption agency has sought to play down the significance of the fact that it was forced to remove high-profile mainland graft suspect Song Lin as head of its ethics advisory body.

Simon Peh, commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, declined to comment on Song's removal but said he would look into whether it was necessary to review vetting rules.

Earlier this month, the ICAC removed Song's name and video from its website, hours after it was announced that the former boss of state-owned China Resources was under investigation by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and had been sacked for "suspected serious violations of discipline and law".

Asked if he was concerned about vetting procedures for committee personnel, Peh said: "We will examine the situation... look into [whether] there needs to be more stringent vetting procedures.

"But I want to stress that this committee was originally just a bridge. Through the committee [and] the involved business associations, we reach out to company members. It's not what you guys think."

Peh said members of the ethics committee were recruited from six major Hong Kong local business associations, and were elected by the associations.

He said the role of the committee was to advise on the promotion of ethics in the private sector. Business associations help with that by utilising their networks to reach companies.

Peh also announced that the 588 corruption complaints the agency received in the first quarter of 2014 was up slightly from the same period last year.

Complaints about government departments and the public sector made up just less than 40 per cent of the total; the rest related to the private sector.

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of ICAC's establishment, the anti-graft body has been holding various educational and promotional events to stress the importance of integrity.

The commission's Youth Integrity Project — which includes a series of talks, an ambassador programme, training camp and competition — attracted about 270 competition entries involving some 880 students locally and internationally. The top prize consists of a HK$1,5000 scholarship and, for Hong Kong teams only, a chance to intern at the ICAC.