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Graftbuster warns of more sinister fiddling

The Standard

Abuse of power for personal gain has overtaken bribery as the main form of corruption by public servants.

Phila Siu

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Abuse of power for personal gain has overtaken bribery as the main form of corruption by public servants.

That was the message from the Independent Commission Against Corruption commissioner at the opening of the Fifth ICAC Symposium entitled Old Challenge, New Approach: Fighting Corruption in a Changing World.

Addressing the three-day forum, which began yesterday, Timothy Tong Hin-ming said: “Recent times have seen in Hong Kong a clear shift away from the quid pro quo bribery situations to a more sinister form of self-generated advantage, created by a public officer using and abusing his public office to obtain private benefits.” He called this misconduct in public office.

Tong also told forum members that it is time to review the adequacy of the government’s existing probity framework.

“The current monitoring mechanism is robust and effective,” he said. “But a system is only as strong as its ability to adapt to change.

“While the public expects interaction between public officials and the business community to take place, the public expects such interactions to be appropriate.”

Recently, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam- kuen and former chief secretary Rafael Hui Si-yan have been involved in ICAC probes.

In addition, three graftbusters were jailed for 18 to 30 months for coaching a key witness to provide false evidence in a HK$100 million fraud case.

Tong stressed that no matter how powerful the people involved in the probes are, the graftbuster will remain unswerving in cracking down on corruption.

“We will act with dogged determination, with no exception as to the time, place, or manner in which the alleged offence was committed, or the status or the levels of the persons involved.”

Tong said that the number of corruption complaints rose by 4percent to 1,267 in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year.

Meanwhile, ICAC Operations Review Committee chairman Michael Sze Cho-cheung said in a video uploaded to the agency’s website that the committee will make sure the graftbusters do not abuse their power.

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