Turmoil at Hong Kong’s anti-corruption watchdog turns to farce as chief withdraws resignation
The Independent Commission Against Corruption No 2, Ricky Yau Shu-chun, quit then withdrew his resignation within a matter of hours
Trouble at the top of the Independent Commission Against Corruption turned to farce on Friday night as the agency’s No 2 quit then withdrew his resignation within a matter of hours.
At 6.26pm yesterday the commission announced that the acting head of the ICAC’s powerful investigative arm – the Operations Department – Ricky Yau Shu-chun was leaving to be replaced by a returning veteran, Ricky Yu Chun-cheong.
But just 2-1/2 hours later, at 8.59pm – after what sources describe as a series of “emotional” crisis meetings – the commission released a statement saying Yau had withdrawn his resignation “after staff members of the Operations Department expressed profound wishes for him to remain in office and after having considered the overall interest of the commission”.
The turmoil followed the departure of the ICAC’s first female head of operations, Rebecca Li Bo-lan, earlier this month, amid unconfirmed allegations over soft-peddling on a probe into Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and bitter personality clashes in the organisation.
The later statement went on to say: “The commissioner, who all along had requested Yau to stay, approved his withdrawal request. Yau will continue to act as head of operations, while Ricky Yu Chun-cheong will remain as director of investigation (government sector), and Ricky Chu Man-kin will be appointed director of investigation (private sector) with effect from August 1, 2016.”
Yesterday also saw the departure of the commission’s chief forensic accountant, Melissa Tang Shuk-nei. Tang’s specialist position was created in 2010. Due to the complex nature of corruption investigations the commission was employing forensic accountants from the private sector at a huge cost. The move gained approval and Tang and two others were hired to save money.
Former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang issued a statement through her pro-democracy think tank Hong Kong 2020 on Friday, expressing concerns over the series of personnel shake-ups at the ICAC. In the statement, Chan, convener of the group, said she believed the changes were “unusual”.
“It is necessary for ICAC commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu to publicly explain in detail as soon as possible, in order to clear public doubts, rebuild the ICAC’s morale and save the public’s confidence in the commission,” the statement read.