Complaints about corruption in Hong Kong are on the rise - including 15 related to the chief executive election - the city's top graft-buster told an international symposium yesterday.
Timothy Tong Hin-ming, commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption, said complaints to the ICAC increased 4 per cent in the first four months of this year, compared to last year - even though the number of cases with enough evidence for an investigation remained unchanged.
He was addressing the fifth ICAC Symposium, attended by anti-corruption delegates from more than 50 countries, at the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.
Of the 1,267 complaints received by the ICAC in the first four months of the year, 825 were related to the commercial sector, 366 involved government officials and 76 involved public organisations, he said.
The chief executive election in March generated 15 complaints about issues including vote-rigging, providing free food and drinks during the campaign, and spreading false information, Tong said. The 2007 election produced six complaints, the ICAC said.
The commission received more than 2,000 corruption complaints related to the district council elections in November, a record for the district polls, Tong said.
He said the nature of bribery involving public figures had worsened nowadays to become a 'sinister form of self-generated advantage, created by a public officer using and abusing his public office to obtain a private benefit'.
Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is being investigated for potential conflicts of interest for accepting favours from tycoon friends.
Tong said the public had raised their expectations of government officials. The ICAC had been working with the administration on countering corrupt activities within the government, he said.
Tong declined to comment on the high-profile investigation into corruption allegations against former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan and the three Kwok brothers of Sun Hung Kai Properties.
But in his speech he noted there had been 20 successful prosecutions of public officers since the ICAC was founded 38 years ago. This had prompted the public 'to expect increasingly high standards of accountability and integrity of its public officials', he said.
The commissioner did not comment on former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen's accusations of lying levelled at election opponent Leung Chun-ying. Tang said in March that he had made a report to the ICAC after accusing Leung of lying to the public about comments he [Leung] had made during an Executive Council meeting.
Tong's term of office ends on June 30, but he did not say if he wanted to stay on. He said it was most important for him to finish the tasks in hand, particularly working through the complaints from the district council elections.
The symposium continues until tomorrow.