Alice Tai says her role is too limited to conduct inquiry Lawmakers yesterday urged Ombudsman Alice Tai Yuen-ying to investigate Harbour Fest. But she said other government bodies could do a better job because of the restrictions on her office. Ms Tai, however, did not rule out the possibility of an Ombudsman inquiry. 'Since the Audit Department will look into the case, I have decided that I will not look into Harbour Fest,' Ms Tai said. 'That is not to say that in the future I will not look into it ... but if there is a body with less investigative restrictions, then I am happy for them to do it. We can only look at government departments.' Since Harbour Fest was essentially the product of a commercial agreement between InvestHK - the government's investment-promotion arm - and the American Chamber of Commerce, Ms Tai said such a restriction would severely hamper any investigation. 'If it is a business arrangement then it is outside the ambit of the Ombudsman,' she said. 'We can't look at private-sector firms. I believe Legco would be able to do a better job ... I can only investigate maladministration.' Ms Tai's contract expires at the end of March and she said she did not know if it would be renewed. The Ombudsman is appointed by the chief executive. Frontier legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing said she was concerned that delaying the decision on whether to replace her could hamper the functioning of the office - a cornerstone of the accountability system. Ms Tai said the office had received 7,148 inquiries and 2,455 complaints so far this financial year. It received 14,298 inquiries and 4,382 complaints last financial year, an increase of 17.2 per cent over the previous year. Ms Tai said 74 per cent of complaints were dealt with within two months and 24 per cent within six months. She denied that the office was understaffed, saying the results were well within the guidelines laid out in the Ombudsman's performance pledge. 'Sometimes what looks like a simple matter turns out to be a lot more complex than anticipated,' she said. 'I would certainly prefer to do a thorough job - even if it takes more than six months.'