Timothy Tong scandal deals ‘distressing’ blow to anti-graft agency: Carrie Lam

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 February, 2014, 4:18pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 February, 2014, 4:49pm

The "upsetting and regrettable" scandal and criminal investigation surrounding former ICAC chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming have tarnished the reputation of the anti-graft agency, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said yesterday.

But the government's No2 official dismissed a suggestion for tighter rules to deter former chief executives, ministers and regulators from receiving benefits after they retired.

She also rejected a call to look at whether people who joined the civil service after 2000, when its pension system changed, might be more inclined to corruption.

Tong was appointed as a local delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, Beijing's top advisory body, shortly before he was revealed to have spent lavishly on dinners and received gifts from mainland officials during his tenure at the Independent Commission Against Corruption between 2007 and 2012.

Referring to a Legislative Council report that condemned the "deplorable" overspending, Lam said: "The report revealed the inadequacies and non-compliances of the ICAC in the handling of official entertainment, duty visits outside Hong Kong and gifts during the tenure of its former commissioner.

"[It] inevitably undermined the ICAC's image and Hong Kong's reputation as a corruption-free society."

Citing remarks made by advisory committee on corruption chairman Chow Chung-kong, Lam said: "[I share his feeling] the incident was upsetting and regrettable. … But I trust under the leadership of the present commissioner, the ICAC will continue its follow-up."

Last month, chairman of the ICAC operations review committee Michael Sze Cho-cheung warned that less generous pensions might prompt civil servants to accept kickbacks.

Civic Party leader Alan Leong Kah-kit urged the government to look into the matter.

In 2000, new recruits switched to the Civil Service Provident Fund - to which the government contributes 15 to 25 per cent of the salaries of those with more than three years' service.