To the extent that lobbyists are paid to smooth their clients' access to the corridors of power, some see lobbying as a form of corruption. It may be argued that this view is too strict; hiring a lobbyist is similar to instructing a lawyer to present one's case in court. What matters is everybody knows who he works for. What was so objectionable about the conduct of former legislator Gary Cheng Kai-nam was that he failed to declare his interest as a paid consultant for the Sports Development Board when he raised questions and spoke to officials about the board in his official capacity. Politics and public relations simply do not go together. It was bad enough that Cheng should have found it proper to set up a public affairs consultancy after becoming a legislator; it was worse that he sought to wear two hats at the same time by concealing his interest as a consultant when he was seen to be acting as a legislator. Conflict of interest is basically an issue of integrity. The moral that one should not abuse one's position for personal gain is universal. For those in public office, it is all the more important that they draw a clear line between their public duty and private business. Cheng was convicted of corruption and deception charges primarily because he was paid for his work for the Sports Development Board. But even if he were not paid, it would still be wrong for him to have used his position as a legislator to acquire information for purposes related to the other hat he wore, although it would have been much more difficult to pin him down. Indeed, the Independent Commission Against Corruption has come across many cases of civil servants abusing their positions for personal gain. Very often, the favours involved were small and no money changed hands, so corruption charges could not be pressed. Far more disturbing were cases where officials joined companies with which they had had dealings soon after they left government. Although a brief cooling-off period was usually observed, such cross-overs were still wrong. No rules may be able to fully prevent such misconduct, but they need to be tightened to keep it to a minimum. Having a free press to keep officials on their toes certainly helps.