Ex-immigration chief shrugs off rumour he will be Hong Kong’s next chief graft-buster

Current ICAC commissioner Simon Peh is reported to have decided not to renew his contract at beleaguered organisation

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2017, 6:59pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 March, 2017, 9:52pm

Former immigration director Eric Chan Kwok-ki has brushed off rumours that he’s in line to be the city’s next chief graft-buster.

A media report on Wednesday said the incumbent head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, Simon Peh Yun-lu, had decided not to renew his contract when the government’s term ends in June.

Chan, 58, who retired from the Immigration Department last year, told the Post: “This is a rumour. I have no comment.”

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An ICAC spokesman said Peh’s contract would end on June 30.

Under the Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution, the chief executive nominates the appointments of all principal officials, including the ICAC chief, to the central government in Beijing.

Peh, 62, took up his ICAC role on July 1, 2012, after retiring from the top job in the Immigration Department in 2011 and being succeeded by Chan. He was picked by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who is not seeking a second term.

The election for the city’s top job takes place on March 26.

A government source said: “It is too early to say who is going to head the ICAC in the next government term, as we don’t know who will be the next CE. The game is still on.”

Since 2013, public satisfaction with the ICAC has plunged to a record low and is the worst among all disciplined services, according to a survey by the University of Hong Kong’s public opinion programme.

This came in the aftermath of a series of controversial ICAC shake-ups, including the removal of powerful operations head Rebecca Li Bo-lan in July last year, which sparked an uproar.

There were suspicions about whether Li’s departure was linked to an investigation of Leung, who received HK$50 million from an Australian engineering firm before he became leader.

The saga put the credibility of the agency and Peh’s leadership into question.

The agency handled several high-profile cases under Peh’s watch, with former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and his right-hand man Rafael Hui Si-yan ending up in jail.