• Mon
  • Dec 22, 2014
  • Updated: 9:23am
NewsHong Kong

Timothy Tong’s ‘unduly close’ links with mainland ‘may have harmed ICAC’

Legco report criticises former ICAC chief for shaking public confidence in the impartiality of the commission - and for a 'lack of prudence'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 July, 2014, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 July, 2014, 8:18am

Former anti-corruption chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming "tarnished the reputation" of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) by wining and dining mainland officials and handing over expensive gifts, a Legislative Council report said yesterday.

The 126-page document - which comes just months after a strongly worded public accounts committee report - questioned the "unduly close contacts" between Tong and mainland officials.

The report also expressed "deep regret" at the ICAC's selective withholding of information by "tricky" means during the Legco investigation.

The report stated: "The select committee is concerned whether Mr Tong had thoroughly considered that unduly close contacts between him and mainland officials in Hong Kong during his tenure might have shaken public confidence in the impartiality of the ICAC and himself as the commissioner of the ICAC in handling alleged corruption cases involving mainland officials."

It went on to criticise Tong by saying a third of all meals paid for by the ICAC broke its budget - with public money blown on expensive drinks such as Maotai and gifts given to mainland officials.

"The ways he handled such matters are not commensurate with the values of probity and integrity advocated by the ICAC and fall short of public expectations of the commissioner of the ICAC, and have damaged the image of the ICAC, thus tarnishing its reputation," the report noted.

Tong yesterday hit back in a statement issued by his lawyers, blaming extensive media coverage for damaging the ICAC's reputation and saying that the report did not harm his integrity.

"How could I alone be able to easily shake the image and reputation of an internationally acclaimed ... professional law-enforcement body?" he asked.

He also questioned what rules he had broken, saying "no one ever gives [me] an answer" and claimed the report had done him "justice". He even welcomed it for "clearing my name".

The report also criticised Tong for both giving and receiving gifts. Some gifts were given to Tong personally, the report said.

He was also criticised for arranging 35 work trips costing a total of almost HK$4 million and bestowing HK$282,000 worth of gifts to both mainland and overseas officials.

"Mr Tong ignored the principle of frugality and the need to avoid extravagance [and] lacked the prudence expected of him as the commissioner of the ICAC," the report said.

In November last year, he was reprimanded for his "deplorable" overspending in a Legco public accounts committee report.

The new report advised that duty visits should "only be undertaken ... on an 'absolute need' basis", which the chief executive should consider when approving such applications. It also advised that any gift given to the commissioner worth more than HK$400 should be made public. The committee's suggestions are non-binding.

However, the five pan-democrats on the committee refused to endorse the report, saying it was an attempt by pro-government legislators to play down the scandal.



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Timothy Tong is a complete disgrace. His arrogance knows no boundaries as he regards the investigation into his misdeeds has damaged his reputation rather than his own greed. Let's be clear, he was found with his snout well and truly in the trough!
The PRC should hire Tim as their head of busting corruption, he's already got all the qualities of a mainland official, might as well.
Whilst TONG is culpable, no one appears to be looking at those who supported, facilitated or turned a blind eye of willful negligence to his activities. The fact that no one in the ICAC was prepared to blow the whistle on him is indicative of a colluding culture. Is this what we want in ICAC? The public needs to be assured that the ICAC has an appropriate culture, given its draconian powers.
What a disgrace, especially as head of ICAC. Yet another classic example of bungling corrupt HK government officials.
All this under Donald Duck's tenure? Makes sense...
Tong's case illustrated when the so-called two systems meet, the mainland's gigantic system will degenerate the foundation of the tiny one in HK. HK's system (emcompassing somethings like professional standard, business ethics, judicial impartiality, social morality...) will be long gone before 2047 to arrive.
But doesn't the mainland own us? How can his ties to the masters hurt us? I am so confused.
Well, after all it is ONE COUNTRY....so his practices are in line with the Motherland...nothing wrong with that...
And the grown-up is fed-up with his "uncivilised" biological mother and wants to run away (perhaps back to his "suroagate" mother), but the reality is that he can never run away. Either the mother changes her mindset or the grown-up gives up his beliefs for them to live happily together. The present situation shows that the grown-up has to succumb.
An analogy can be made in this way: a child was born to a mother but was later seized and raised by someone from far away having totally different values and norms. Now the child is a grown-up and returned to his natural mother who thinks and behaves in ways that the grown-up finds so imcompatible to what he has acquired or learnt, and most unfortunately against the virtues he believes in. The grown-up has his own personality and so so does his natural mother. Argument and figthing are predictable outcome if both sides cannot reconcile their difference.


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