Like some other fears evoked in Hong Kong at the handover, anxiety about a surge in corruption appears to be receding. That is not to say that the SAR has brought an automatic and sudden increase in probity. Corruption will never be eradicated here or anywhere else, which is why the fight against it must continue. After the Independent Commission Against Corruption was set up in 1974, a climate of fair dealing took root in Hong Kong. That image, bolstered by the vital ingredient of the rule of law and safeguarded by the ICAC's independence, is essential to our future prosperity. The lessening of public concern in recent months has been based on the continued high profile of the ICAC and the determination of its commissioner, Lily Yam Kwan Pui-ying, to pursue every case brought to its attention with rigour. That determination was stated once more at a seminar yesterday. Since July, ICAC activities have regularly made news. Investigations have covered malpractice among housing estate officers, a hotel chain, the fashion industry, brokerages and travel agents. Cases have been brought over alleged money laundering, fraud and race fixing. No walk of life is exempt from its scrutiny, a point which teenagers polled by the Federation of Youth Groups might care to note. In July, the young people surveyed caused consternation by saying they would pay a bribe to solve a problem. The ICAC's record may convince them that bribery causes problems, not solves them. Any further proof that might be needed over the value of the commission can be found in the economic and political turbulence around the region. Thailand's crisis is directly linked to its culture of money politics. Indonesia is now starting to take the painful steps needed to move its economy out of the shadow of pervasive political patronage. The president of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, said at the IMF conference here in September that his organisation was increasing efforts to outlaw corruption because of its effect on developing nations. Hong Kong maintains a clean image, which is an extremely valuable asset in these difficult times. No effort must be spared to protect it, and that means both recognising and supporting the contribution of the ICAC to our well-being.