The city's graft-busting agency celebrated its 40th anniversary yesterday with a pledge from its chief to rebuild its morale and reputation after a year of "unprecedented challenges" and in the absence of the man at the centre of those challenges.
Former Independent Commission Against Corruption chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming, under investigation by the agency he once headed, was nowhere to be seen.
"Concerns and criticism over the management of official entertainment, gifts and duty visits during the tenure of the former commissioner have had some impact on our reputation and public confidence in us," current chief Simon Peh Yun-lu said.
"However, I'm glad we were able to stand united and live up to the challenge by taking positive steps to rectify the inadequacies."
Asked whether Tong was invited to the reception, Peh said: "We invite guests whom we perceive to be appropriate.
"As to who was invited and who wasn't, we don't want to discuss it here."
Other controversial figures such as former chief executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who is also the subject of an ICAC investigation, and Alex Tsui Ka-kit, who was sacked from his post as deputy director of operations in 1993, were also absent.
Peh confirmed the investigations into Tong and Tsang - whose trips with tycoon friends are under scrutiny - were ongoing. "I understand some people hope to see results soon, but appropriate steps have to be taken in our work."
The most controversial figure in the ICAC's history, former police chief superintendent Peter Fitzroy Godber, is the subject of an exhibition at the commission's North Point headquarters this weekend and next.
Three original logbooks of the corrupt policeman, whose activities led to the establishment of the ICAC in 1974, are on display.
Visitors will also be able to handle some of the firearms that about 100 specially trained ICAC officers are qualified to carry when heading out to arrest particularly violent suspects. They will also see the interview rooms and identification suite.
In addition, a television drama is to be broadcast to celebrate the anniversary.