WHATEVER the outcome of the historic public debate which highlighted sexual harassment, telephone bugging and political vetting within Hong Kong's anti-corruption agency, one man has come out a clear winner . . . or so he would have others believe. Since his controversial dismissal from the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), Alex Tsui Ka-kit has become something of a local hero. Sacked over allegations of triad links, of diverting investigations from companies belonging to his friends and of failing to follow commission procedure, Mr Tsui seems to be enjoying the attention his downfall has brought. He now has his own chat show on Metro Radio and has turned down two film roles because of work commitments. ''At least I have had my say, I have put my case forward and the public know that,'' he said. ''It would be dishonest of me if I said I did not want justice from this, but the inquiry has become too political and the panel will be under too much pressure to find in favour of the ICAC.'' The unprecedented inquiry into the sacking of the former senior graft fighter, which started five months ago, was supposed to have come to a conclusion last week. But members of the Legislative Council's security panel seem just as confused as the public as to who is in the wrong. Members have said they are still ''grappling'' with core evidence and a verdict may be several months away. Both Mr Tsui and his sparring partner, ICAC commissioner Bertrand de Speville, could still be recalled to provide written clarification of their allegations. So what exactly is to be achieved from this historic hearing? They were originally brought before the security panel to unearth the reasons behind Mr Tsui's dismissal. But what followed was a public bout between the headmaster and his former star pupil. The animosity was so great that the case attracted more public interest than a favourite television soap opera. However, the hearing also focused attention on the tremendous powers of the ICAC and whether it was time to review those powers and make it more accountable. Could the rather public airing of soiled laundry have been avoided in the first place? Mr de Speville broke his silence, and Section 8 (2) of the ICAC ordinance, when he told legislators the reasons for Mr Tsui's dismissal. All were serious offences which would mean a breach of the Official Secrets Act and, inevitably, an appearance in court. So if the ICAC had concrete evidence why wasn't the necessary action taken? It would have saved a five-month public slating and maintained the commission's integrity. The big question is, who is telling the truth? Mr Tsui has already claimed the ICAC bugged the phones of former transport secretary Yeung Kai-yin and former executive and legislative councillor Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai. He also alleged the ICAC drew up a political hit-list of people to be kept under surveillance and that it indulged in empire building by manipulating statistics to justify extra funding. Mr Tsui has said he is ready to reveal the codename of the alleged bugging operation and details of meetings between the ICAC and Special Branch, which he says he was part of. He will do this because ''I want to clear my name and I want to prove to the public that the ICAC and Governor Chris Patten were wrong to deny that the commission undertook any political bugging. ''All they have is allegations. If they have proof of my so-called connections, why don't they charge me and let the courts deal with it. The ICAC knows it has nothing on me and it is sad the way it is trying to ruin my reputation,'' he said. ''If I shut up, people will think I am a bad guy and I will be smeared for life.'' As deputy director of operations, Mr Tsui was the highest-ranking Chinese officer in the ICAC and hotly tipped to become the first local director. If he was guilty of the allegations made against him, how was he allowed to reach such a powerful and high-ranking position unnoticed? This would undoubtedly draw a question mark over the accountability and powers of the ICAC. If the ICAC has enough evidence against Mr Tsui and he was taken through the courts, the commission would at least be seen to be doing a thorough external and internal job. The ICAC and Mr de Speville have kept a low profile concerning Mr Tsui and the Legco debate. He is reported to have said that ''Tsui's replies and demeanour caused me the gravest doubts as to his trustworthiness''. He has also described the bugging revelations as wild and unfounded. Many questions have been raised during the last nine months and the commission is undoubtedly facing its toughest time since its inception 20 years ago. Another issue which sparked major controversy was the disciplinary action handed out to senior investigations officer Michael Croft who allegedly sexually harassed a female member of staff. The officer, who was in charge of a team of women, had been accused of sexual harassment before, yet nothing was done. It was this controversy that Mr Tsui claims led to his dismissal. He says he was sacked because of his displeasure at how his boss, director of operations Jim Buckle, conducted an internal investigation into the claims. Mr Croft was eventually moved to another department and his contract was not renewed when it expired last March. But Mr Tsui said the man should have been sacked immediately and criminal charges brought against him. THE Government has responded to the controversy by appointing a nine-member committee, chaired by Austrian-born shipping magnate Helmut Sohmen, a former legislator, to review the ICAC's powers. Its findings are expected by the end of the year. Security sources say they expect the panel to recommend greater accountability - to a panel rather than just the Governor - increased transparency in non-operational matters and perhaps define the rather blurred boundaries within which graft-busters can or cannot probe. But with worries that corruption may once again be rising with the spread of business relations into China, industry sources say they do not expect the panel to recommend the ICAC's powers be drastically curtailed. Secrecy has always been an essential ingredient in making the ICAC a powerful force and for its success in its early days. But times have changed and so have people's attitudes.