Corruption unacceptable in any way, shape or form
The jailing of a mainland businessman for offering a bottle of perfume to a bank officer underlines Hong Kong’s zero tolerance of graft
Greasing someone’s palm is pretty much the norm when you want to win favours or get around bureaucracy on the mainland. But when the same is practised in a place with zero tolerance for corruption such as Hong Kong, the price to pay can be high. The six-month jail term for a mainland businessman who offered a bottle of Chanel No 5 perfume to a bank officer while applying to open an account underlines the city’s determination to crackdown on corruption. The court heard that 44-year-old Chen Zhengxi was trying to “befriend” an HSBC assistant manager with the HK$1,350 gift, after the bank had queried his business and asked for more supporting documents before approving his application.
If the incident had happened on the mainland, it likely would not have raised eyebrows. Luxury gifts and lavish banquets are often part and parcel of networking among businesses and officialdom.
Some parents even send expensive gifts to teachers and principals in return for better care for their children at school. Thanks tothe recent anti-corruption drive, led by President Xi Jinping, the situation has somewhat been brought under control.
The “gift culture”, however, has no place in our business and public sectors. As the magistrate rightly said, integrity is a universally accepted value. Practices common on the mainland are not necessarily accepted elsewhere. Cultural differences are no excuse for corrupting the system.
There are those who argue that offering a bank employee a bottle of perfume is not such a serious offence. A six-month jail term may therefore seem too harsh. But at stake is the city’s reputation as a world-class financial centre.
Given our intensifying cross-border exchanges and integration, there is a need to guard against the infiltration of corrupt practices, be it in the public sector or commercial enterprises. The sentencing has sent the right signal that corruption will not be tolerated in our city.