Reputation is everything. For years the perception of collusion between government and property developers cast a pall over Hong Kong's priceless reputation for a clean business environment and largely corruption-free government. Ultimately, criminal charges of bribery and misconduct involving a former No. 2 in the administration and the city's biggest property developer dealt it a serious blow, undermining public trust and international confidence. Guilty verdicts delivered by a jury yesterday do nothing to restore either. They will therefore test the city's renowned capacity for emerging stronger from setbacks. It cannot afford to fail. Ironically the catharsis of the trial for the city is a starting point for restoring its reputation. The rule of law and presumption of innocence under an independent judiciary - the core value at the heart of Hong Kong's success and stability - prevailed unscathed. At a time of turmoil and polarisation of the community over political reform, that is reassuring. It should also be remembered that the Independent Commission Against Corruption has yet to reach a decision on another long-running, high-profile investigation of a scandal from before the last chief executive election. Hopefully the jury's verdicts will help restore public confidence in ICAC, battered by a scandal over lavish spending by a former chief. It is a worry that this is linked to falls in the number of corruption complaints lodged with it for the past three years. Since the handover there may have been questions about the competence of governance, but we clung to faith that it was at least clean, despite perceptions of collusion. After all, unlike the mainland, Hong Kong remaind relatively corruption-free and under the rule of law. Nonetheless, outside the city, there have been concerns whether corruption would make inroads into government. One case, no matter how shocking, does not make these concerns valid. Rather, we trust that the fact that ICAC pursued it rigorously, and presented a case that resulted in a decision to prosecute by an independent authority, shows that Hong Kong remains a place that will not tolerate corruption. Indeed, the verdicts are important as a deterrence in that they show that no one is immune. The rule of law has been reinforced. That will stand the city in good stead in restoring its reputation.