'Scandal over Tong dents ICAC support'

Traditional fierce backing for agency ebbs but stance against corruption holds fast

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 2:50am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2014, 2:50am

Hongkongers' determination to wipe out corruption has rallied despite their support for the Independent Commission Against Corruption hitting its lowest for at least a decade, an annual survey commissioned by the anti-graft agency has found.

Although still high, the figure of 95.6 per cent of respondents believing the ICAC deserved their support showed a drop from 98.7 per cent in the previous year. A decade earlier, the figure stood at 99.3 per cent.

A total of 1,482 people were randomly polled for the survey between October and December last year - when the lavish spending by former ICAC commissioner Timothy Tong Hin-ming was being scrutinised by lawmakers. A report by Legco's Public Accounts Committee in November reprimanded Tong for "ignorance or total disregard of rules".

About 80 per cent of respondents said they would report any corruption - the highest percentage recorded since 2009, after dropping into the high seventies.

About 99 per cent of those polled perceived that it was vital for its development that the city be corruption-free, while the mean score of tolerance of corruption is virtually zero - 0.8 in a scale from 0 to 10.

Democratic Party chief executive Lam Cheuk-ting, a former ICAC investigator, said yesterday: "It has taken decades for the commission to build its brand but all that effort has been in vain after the scandal that embroiled Tong.

"But luckily, Hongkongers still believe they would report corruption - so there's still hope for the ICAC to rebuild its image, although it will take a long time."

An ICAC spokesperson said: "The annual survey reveals that the percentage of respondents willing to report corruption is the highest in the past five years, showing the public continues to embrace the core value of probity, and demonstrating confidence in ICAC's anti-graft work."