THOUGH it should not surprise anyone, the revelation of a possible exodus of experienced Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) investigators is worrying. At a time when corruption is on the rise, the last thing this community wants is a decline of the anti-graft agency's efficiency. Social morality appears waning as a recent survey shows frauds perpetrated by staff in many big Hong Kong companies have soared. Many local ICAC officers, as well as their counterparts in other disciplinary services, may want to emigrate or join the private sector before the change of sovereignty in 1997 because of the sensitivities of their work. This is understandable. Coupled with better employment prospects in Western countries following an economic recovery, a brain drain has become a real threat. Prevention is always better than cure. ICAC administrators should start mapping out strategies to tackle this possible crisis. ICAC Assistant Director, Administration, Bryan Hemshall, said the force cannot bring in experienced investigators because there is no pool from which it can draw. Efforts to recruit Hong Kong emigrants from overseas, nevertheless, should be strengthened. Other proposals to enlarge the pool of candidates also should be considered. Mr Hemshall was perfectly right when he said the ICAC can always fill in numbers from the bottom but it cannot replace the loss of experienced middle and upper level management. To be sure, talents of this level are always hard to find. However, the force may consider training some bright, young local officers, who have no intention of leaving the force, to take up more senior posts. In view of the potential crisis, naming and training some promising young officers sooner should find few objections. It is sad, above all, to see surveys indicate that sky-rocketing property prices have become a major factor in ICAC officers' consideration of leaving Hong Kong. Many mid-career officers may have discovered they cannot even afford to buy a flat with their life savings with property prices more than doubled in the past three years. The Government can only blame itself for intervening in the market too little too late. Now the chickens eventually come home to roost.