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Simpson Cheung

Ailing asylum seekers and torture claimants still appealing against their unsuccessful applications to remain in the city say they are turning to hospital emergency services because they cannot get a waiver of their medical fees.

The number of torture claimants and asylum seekers granted waivers of non-emergency medical fees by the Hospital Authority has soared threefold in the past four financial years to at least HK$40.8 million.

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Under questioning by lawmakers at his third and final appearance before the Legislative Council's public accounts committee, Timothy Tong also admitted that he had received a gift of a traditional Chinese screen worth as much as HK$200,000 from mainland judicial officials in 2007. It was still in ICAC headquarters when he stepped down last year.

Lawmakers have expressed concerns over what they called arbitrary and creative accounting by the Independent Commission Against Corruption as they examine expenses for meals and duty visits incurred by its former chief, Timothy Tong Hin-ming.

The latest development came as Barry Cheung resigned from his positions in major businesses - as a board member of Russian aluminium producer United Co Rusal and as an independent non-executive director of AIA Group Limited.

Troubled former chief graft-buster Timothy Tong Hin-ming admitted for the first time yesterday that he had approved the purchase of strong spirits for use at receptions. Tong told lawmakers that buying different types of alcohol was necessary to meet different guests' needs at functions held by the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Police last night arrested a fourth suspect - a 60-year-old man - in the investigation into the failure of the Hong Kong Mercantile Exchange (HKMEx).

At a Legislative Council committee hearing into his hospitality spending, Tong attributed the higher entertainment bills racked up during his five-year tenure at the Independent Commission Against Corruption to a rise in the number of visitors to the agency's headquarters in North Point after it opened in 2007.

The hearing of the Legislative Council's Public Accounts Committee to question Tong and his successor, Simon Peh Yun-lu, was meant to run for four hours but ended after Tong gave evidence for less than 90 minutes when lawmakers accused him of dodging questions and wasting time.

Former ICAC chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming spent HK$100,000 of public money on a reception at The Peak in one of two lavish dinners he will face questions over in the Legislative Council today.

Student protesters who were forcibly removed from a Tseung Kwan O college by police on Thursday condemned officers for abusing their power. They also complained about how male officers handled females. One said she felt "uncomfortable and offended" when a policeman grabbed her from behind, touching her breasts.

All employees of offices set up in Hong Kong by the central government are to obey the city's laws, as laid out in the Basic Law, the Department of Justice says.

Police and customs drug seizures have surged in the first three months of the year, figures show. There was also a strong rise in seizure of fake credit cards and yuan notes in the second half of last year.

The city's anti-graft agency said last night it will launch a corruption investigation into its former chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming. He becomes the first head of the graft-busting agency to face a criminal probe in the Independent Commission Against Corruption's 39-year history.

A transsexual who plans to marry her boyfriend in church after winning a legal battle on Monday said yesterday her victory was an answer from God that she "did not choose a wrong path".

Corruption complaints that are deemed "pursuable" - excluding election-related cases - account for 70 per cent to 80 per cent of all reports the ICAC receives every year, a review of its annual reports for the years 2000 to 2011 shows.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has long been one of Hong Kong's most cherished institutions, credited with helping turn the city from one of Asia's most corrupt into one of its cleanest.

Andy Tsang Wai-hung said officers did not know until she was arrested on Wednesday that Melody Chan Yuk-fung had joined the movement to occupy roads in the city centre in a pro-democracy protest planned for next year.

More than HK$9.6 million held in company bank accounts was targeted in a sophisticated e-mail scam that tricked 13 people into revealing the code generated by personal security devices banks issue for customers to conduct transactions online, police say.

Students who took part in a protest on Monday when Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying visited City University have accused some security guards of rough treatment and are demanding an explanation from the school.

A lawmaker urged the tight-lipped Customs and Excise Department to explain why Tong could borrow a plane from the Government Flying Service to entertain visiting mainland officials in 2004, as alleged by a Chinese-language newspaper yesterday.

Birmingham City football club boss Carson Yeung Ka-sing has asked a judge to let him sit outside the dock while the court hears evidence in his HK$721 million money-laundering trial.

The publishing in a newspaper of tycoon Joseph Lau Luen-hung's medical records last Tuesday could be an offence under Macau law, a lawyer there has said.

A taxi driver and his passenger escaped serious injury yesterday when a giant metal pipe fell from a construction site and crushed his car. The 12-metre pipe, 30cm in diameter, plunged from the Central-Wan Chai reclamation site onto the busy Island Eastern Corridor near Watson Road in North Point.

Former ICAC chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming broke his silence yesterday, saying he had sought legal advice and would co-operate with the committee set up to investigate claims that he spent excessive sums of public money to entertain mainland officials.

Birmingham City Football Club owner Carson Yeung Ka-sing and his father once reported earning nothing for four or five years, but their income later shot up 300 times to HK$721 million in seven years, a court heard yesterday.

Critics said the four-member committee, reporting directly to Leung Chun-ying, was likely to produce little more than a whitewash and should have been headed by a judge.

The scandal surrounding former head graft-buster Timothy Tong Hin-ming should be investigated by the police, not the Independent Commission Against Corruption, to ensure impartiality, a former prosecutions chief says.

The government's decision to cancel the National Day fireworks has alarmed some in the tourism trade while also sparking a debate over whether the display should ever take place again.

Chow Wan-hoi, an instructor at the Maritime Services Training Institute for 11 years until his retirement in July, said at least six teachers did not hold the relevant licences when he worked there.

Lamma Island should be a place full of family memories for Irene Cheng, the place where her beloved son started a prosperous career.

In its report, released yesterday, the Commission of Inquiry pointed to a "litany of errors" at every stage of the design, construction and inspection of the Lamma IV, which contributed to the rapid sinking of the boat.

Officiating at the 2012 News Awards prize presentation ceremony in which the South China Morning Post won 11 prizes, Lam said it was newspapers' mission to unmask secrets. "Some of the award-winning scoops today may not be a delight to see, but … they are fulfilling the mission of the press," she said.

Tycoon Steven Lo Kit-sing and Lau are charged with offering a HK$20 million bribe to Macau's former public works chief, Ao Man-long, in 2005. Ao was jailed for 29 years in May last year.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption was plunged further into controversy yesterday as it was revealed there were more unreported receptions and expenditures by its current and former commissioners.

Former anti-graft chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming faces investigation by his former subordinates as new evidence suggests he used public money to treat officials from Beijing's liaison office.

The city's top graft-buster said he would in future only host meals in the ICAC's canteen at around HK$200 a head after it emerged yesterday that his predecessor spent more than HK$77,000 on two banquets for visiting mainland officials.

Guangdong woman Zhang Qiulan, 39, yesterday became the first mainland mother jailed for giving birth in Hong Kong through a sham marriage after the "zero-birth quota" policy came into effect in January. The policy barred mainland women without Hong Kong husbands from giving birth in the city. The fake marriage with local Cheung Chun-hung, 36, was arranged by Zhang's former father-in-law Lam Yiu-chee, 71. Both Cheung and Lam were also each sentenced to one year in jail.

The body of a 19-year-old student was found floating in High Island Reservoir, Sai Kung yesterday, six days after he went missing. On Tuesday police mounted an air, land and sea search in the area, using tracker dogs, but found no sign of Tsoi Kin-hau.

Five police documents - one of them highly sensitive - have been found in a dog waste bin in Happy Valley. Police received a call on Thursday saying the documents had been put in an envelope inside the bin on Clementi Road.

Firefighters deployed to a blaze on the 17th storey of an Ap Lei Chau residential block on Thursday raised a ladder from a fire engine only 45 minutes after the alarm was sounded, the Fire Services Department admitted yesterday.

Five people were injured when a fire broke out at South Horizons housing estate in Ap Lei Chau early on Thursday and more than 100 residents were roused from sleep and evacuated. Water had to be pumped all the way up from the ground to Flat B on the 17th floor, where an air conditioner was believed to have caught fire.

The public watchdog condemned a medical centre for collecting personal data from more than 360,000 people and selling it to an insurance broker for direct marketing purposes.

Falun Gong banners are on display again at two of the city's busiest areas in Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui after a brief disappearance. Following government action last week a bitter banner war which had broken out between the Falun Gong spiritual movement and the Youth Care Association, a pro-establishment group, was temporarily suspended. Warning letters were issued to both groups informing them that those who erected banners were liable to fines of up to HK$10,000 and a daily fine of HK$300.

Sixteen people were injured yesterday when the driver of a concrete mixer lost control on a road in Lam Tin, with the truck hitting six other vehicles before it rolled on its side and came to a stop.

A Beijing-loyalist alliance of trade unions has stayed silent throughout the week-old walkout at the Kwai Tsing container terminals because of vested interests with some of the port contractors, striking workers have alleged.

HIT was standing by its claim that it had nothing to do with the employment of contract workers, whose strike is now entering its second week. But unions countered with information they said showed otherwise.

The government has promised to step up enforcement against unauthorised banners in the city, in a move that is seen as a bid to bring an end to the bitter banner war between the Falun Gong spiritual movement and a pro-establishment group.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has issued anti-corruption guidelines for the highly competitive real estate industry which is expected to be even more cut-throat following measures to curb home prices.

Social workers and academics want to see more resources to help the so-called hidden youth and the youngsters hooked on video games. A social welfare group says some 10 per cent of the youths it counselled had clashed with parents over playing games.

With his sporty clothing, love of basketball and gentle yet firm voice, Louis Yip does not fit the stereotype of a reclusive secondary-school dropout. But the 19-year-old once quit his classes and spent a full year as a recluse, playing video games at home. He joined a growing army of jobless school leavers who are not engaged in education or training - the so-called "non-engaged youths".

One of the two domestic helpers at the centre of this week's right-of-abode case will be happier living in the Philippines than in Hong Kong, her former boss said. Barry Ong said Evangeline Vallejos, 60, had returned to the Philippines in October, even though her contract expired only next month.

Mobile phone service providers are making a last-minute rush to collect as much personal data as possible before a tighter law on direct-sales tactics comes into effect on April 1.

The screening system is now expected to be rewritten after five judges of the Court of Final Appeal unanimously allowed a challenge by three African men. The government said the ruling would not affect the city's policy of not granting asylum to anyone. Instead, people granted refugee status in Hong Kong are resettled elsewhere.

One of the city's biggest prodemocracy radio stations, Hong Kong Reporter, will stop broadcasting at the end of the month, its owner said last night. Stephen Shiu Yeuk-yuen's sudden announcement came as a shock to many listeners.

Sing Tao News Corporation chairman Charles Ho Tsu-kwok extended an olive branch to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying last night, praising him as a competent leader.

A lawmaker has attacked the government for refusing to say which infant milk formulas are restricted from being taken out of Hong Kong. The criticism came after Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man apologised yesterday to 12 mainlanders carrying rice-based baby cereal, who were mistakenly arrested at the border.

The woman who allegedly tried to behead her tycoon lover before leaping off a luxury Kowloon West apartment block on Sunday had probably planned the murder-suicide, her business partner has revealed.

The younger son arrested over the killing of an old couple had a sad childhood and once did a screen test for a 3-D soft porn film. The man, 29, who briefly worked on Sing Tao Daily's property desk, approached the media on Wednesday saying his parents were missing. Police said yesterday they were killed on March 1.

The dismembered remains of an elderly couple who vanished a fortnight ago were found in a flat in Tai Kok Tsui, Kowloon, yesterday after police arrested their youngest son and a friend. Their heads were found in the refrigerator and police recovered parts of three arms and four legs from the flat.

The commission of inquiry into the Lamma ferry tragedy is set to decide whether Marine Department officers made false statements about children's life vests on the sunken Lamma IV after it finished hearing evidence yesterday.

Marine Department officers failed to detect a missing watertight door on the Lamma IV because they were not alert enough and failed to communicate, its lawyer admitted yesterday.

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The lack of proper lookout or the possibility of “reckless gambling” in the form of a who-blinks-first game between the coxswains of both vessels could be the cause of the disastrous collision off Lamma Island last year, the counsel for the commission of inquiry said in his final submission on Monday.

Rehabilitation authorities are stepping up surprise urine checks on discharged drug offenders to tighten scrutiny of potential relapses. Two former prison officers were jailed last year for falsifying specimens.