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Current Affairs Board 3

Scandals of Former Commissioner of ICAC:

Timothy Tong


arlier media reports revealed numerous scandals involving Timothy Tong Hin-Ming, former

Commissioner of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC). These scandals include excessive expenditure of public funds for the purposes of hosting luxurious banquets for mainland Chinese officials attending official activities with the presence of his girlfriend and using public funds for gift expenses, all of which occurred during Tong’s public tenure. It was revealed that the ICAC held two banquets for officials from the Chinese Government, where the expenditure rocketed to approximately HK$1,200 per head, which was far more than the maximum allowance sum of HK$450 per head as stipulated in ICAC Ordinance Standing Orders even though the expenses were approved by Tong beforehand. Yet, in reality, even if the per-head expenditure for dinner exceeds the originally stipulated sum in ICAC’s Standing Orders, it will not be regarded as a violation provided that the Commissioner approves the expenditure. As the Commissioner also attended both banquets, it would seem that approving the expenditure himself could be considered as a conflict of interest. On top of them, the ICAC has revealed a list of gifts Tong gave out during his tenure. The list revealed a total of 4 gifts, with the accumulated value of approximately HK$8000, which were given out by Tong to Cao Jianming from 2010 to 2011. It was also revealed that the ICAC served more than 20 bottles of expensive liquor in those banquets. Such behaviour has indeed raised public eyebrows.


he Department of Justice and ICAC have simultaneously released press statements in mid-May two weeks after the scandals were revealed. The press statements indicated the follow-up procedures in handling the issues concerning expenditure in Tong’s term of office.

References: 1. Department of Justice - ICAC to conduct criminal investigation against its former Commissioner 2. ICAC - ICAC Statement

Should the ICAC conduct its own investigations? Should The ICAC is an authoritative body which has the power to investigate complaints of such nature with its officers possessing knowledge, expertise and experience.

There is no allegation of any involvement of current Commissioner, Simon Peh Yun Lu in these scandals. It is trusted that he can lead the investigations in a well-handled manner.

Tony Kwok Man-wai, former Deputy Commissioner of ICAC, reinstated that there was no direct relationship between Peh and Tong. The investigations will be conducted in an impartial manner under the leadership of Peh.

Investigators are selected on three conditions: firstly, they must not have attended any events or activities organised by Tong; secondly, there must not be any direct or indirect links and relationships between Tong and the investigators concerned apart from official relationships as ICAC officers; Lastly, those who are qualified to investigate should not involve in any conflicts of interest in anyhow.

Shouldn’t Lam Cheuk-ting, Chief Executive of the Democratic Party and a former ICAC investigator, criticised that an internal investigation within ICAC is ‘unprecedented’, dragging along concerns of any bias being held during the investigations.



ith regards to peculiar facts that the investigations concern a former Commissioner of the

ICAC which involve current ICAC officials, many of whom are highly-ranked at the heart of the authoritative body, the current Commissioner, Simon Peh, must ensure that his team conducts the investigations in a manner where the public is convinced that justice is observed and achieved. There is an incentive for the investigation team to increase the transparency of the proceedings and to release any outcome of the investigations promptly. Success in conducting the investigations in an impartial, unbiased and lawful manner can reverse the current crisis and further enhance ICAC’s image as an impartial institution and a guardian of Hong Kong’s core values. References:

香港廉署查湯顯明案將詢問百位証人 重建公信力 (Chinese)

Should the Public Accounts Committee, Select Committee or Committee of the Chief Executive investigate the matter? Introduction


Public Accounts Committee (PAC)

Select Committee

Committee of the Chief Executive (CE)

One committee at Legislative Council (LegCo) to consider

A committee that can be established by the LegCo for a particular issue under Legislative Council (Power and

The Chief Executive may establish a Committee at his discretion based on necessity out

reports of the Director of Audit on the accounts and results of audits of the Government.

Privileges) Ordinance (Cap. 382) (hereby referred to as PPO).

of the surrounding circumstances.

The Committee may invite

The Selection Committee may summon relevant persons to the Committee to

Among the committees established by the CE in the past,

government officials or high-ranked officials of public organisations to attend public hearings, provide explanations, evidence or

give testimonies or to submit any relevant documents in order to assist Members of LegCo to evaluate the level of power the Committee may exercise in relation to the issue concerned.

the most authoritative committee was vested with power under Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance (hereby referred as CIO). The Committee had the power to summon relevant persons in order to testify or reveal any relevant details or information, all for the

information in relation to the issue concerned.

Member presents a petition to the Council, and such petition is supported by not less than 20 Members after being called upon by the President, the President will refer the petition to the Select Committee.

The Committee may also invite any other persons to provide assistance concerning the information disclosed at the hearings.

According to Section 20 of the Rules of Procedure of the LegCo of the HKSAR (Amended to 22 March 2013), if a

The petition regarding the commencement of investigations on Timothy Tong scandals has gained support from 25 Members, and is then referred to the Select Committee. This referral of the petition is the first of its kind throughout the history of the Hong

purpose of investigating issues concerning operations and management of public organisations, or the behaviours exhibited by any government officials, or any matter where the public is directly relevant and concerned at the Committee’s opinion.

Kong legislature. However, given the fact that the Select Committee is not formulated in accordance to the PPO, there vests no power on the current Select Committee to call upon witnesses for extraction of information. Scope of

Determined in

Determined by Members of LegCo.

Investigation accordance to reports by the Audit Commission. Timothy Tong Scandals

Determined by the Chief Executive.

Since the relevant expenses as alleged in the scandals were not mentioned in the report, the PAC will

It would seem that the most appropriate method is to exercise the powers under PPO. However, it would seem difficult to execute PPO under the influence of LegCo by pro-Beijing members.

Any person relevant to this issue would not be obliged to attend any hearing by the Committee if the CE does not establish the Committee under CIO.

have no power to conduct any follow-up investigations. The President of the PAC has publicly stated that the PAC would only

If Tong is subpoenaed to LegCo, he will be protected by LegCo and PPO privileges. Any comments made during the subpoena bears no legal liability.

The Independent Review Committee on ICAC’s Regulatory Systems and Procedures for handling Official Entertainment, Gifts and Duty Visits, as recently established by CY Leung, is not established according to the CIO.

investigate the excessive expenses of the two banquets.

CY Leung has clarified that the terms of reference of the Committee to be the review ICAC’s regulatory systems and procedures in handling expenses on official entertainment and duty visits. Any specific investigation on Timothy Tong performing misconduct in public office is not within the scope of jurisdiction of the Committee.


郭榮鏗﹕該如何追查湯顯明? — 用帳委會、專責委員會還是特首的委員會?

Related Commentary:


Commen tor




Ng Chi-sum

獨立調 查才能 挽回廉 署公信 X

The Chief Executive has established a committee to prevent the establishment of an independent evaluation committee which is led by Justice. However, such independent committee led by Justice is essential to uphold the core values of Hong Kong –

(Chines e)


Liang Wen-dao

羅馬、 長安、 香港 (Chines e)

uprightness, honesty as well as the need to reveal the truth. Only independent investigation can restore the credibility of ICAC.

http://www.comm 05/ ml

The idea of ‘core values in Hong Kong’ has emerged in the 1980s, but it seems that the ICAC has not withdrawn from this important mission even though this notion receives the greatest public attention. On the other hand, the Police has introduced some novel terms when dealing with the Tong scandals which confuse the general public. It seems that the legend of Hong Kong in safeguarding its core values has merely been sustained for 30 years with minimum awareness by the general public. The public seems to be gradually unconscious of the destruction of core values.


Leung Mei-yee

政府不 敢捅馬 蜂窩 (Chines e)

The reason of the refusal to establish the legally recognised Independent Review Committee under the CIO is to abolish any impression that the government officials work intimately with Chinese officials, which may lead to a loss of confidence towards what is remained in the integrity of ‘One Country Two Systems’.


Dr Ray

捍衛廉 Greater interaction and cooperation between Mainland China


署的尊 嚴 刻 不容緩 503/-6-2959142/1. html

(Chines e)

and Hong Kong prompted greater first-hand experiences for the public on corruption in China. A reasonable man would loathe such behaviour, yet beneath his thoughts, it is possible that where corrupt practices in the Mainland may affect the dynamism of corruption in Hong Kong. Recent corruption cases within the Government have already raised public eyebrows in regards to the morals and ethics of our officials. It would seem that Tong has completely betrayed the public by failing to take responsibility to safeguard clean core, social values within the ICAC, and has breached the trust the public rests on the organisation. If we lost our confidence for the ICAC, the amount of trust and confidence vested on the administrative systems by the public will diminish with serious consequences. Therefore, what is needed is a series of investigations by the government with precise clarification of the entire issue disclosed to the public. The clarification should clearly list out the persons responsible of the scandals, and evaluate then correct any flaws that exist in the current system. In this way, public confidence on the ICAC can be restored lest its integrity is tarnished.


Tsang Chi-ho

信任大 崩潰 The scandals resulted into a breakdown in the reputation of the ICAC, the peculiarity of which is the serious doubt by the (Chines people on how lawful ICAC has been acting. Anti-corruption e) activities in the Mainland may degenerate to a tool for political struggle, resulting into a deficit in credibility.


Chan Chi-kit

擇善固 執方為 禮 (Chines e) W9

Reports showed that Carrie Lam, the Chief Secretary demanded the ICAC not to give any gifts to other relevant organisations in any future interactions. In my opinion, this seems unnecessary: as long as the Hong Kong Government keeps all of its actions clean and lawful with accordance to all regulations and procedures, then it seems appropriate to disregard shameful influence of corruption by the mainland officials. If the conditions of any cooperation between Hong Kong and the Mainland include the subjection by the SAR Government to delve deeper into the ugly politics of the Mainland, it seems that the objective of Hong Kong to strive for greater national development in the mainland is severely undermined.


Poon Siu-to

湯顯明 用吃喝 換得中 國公 職? (Chines e) It seems that the Chinese Government, in its endeavour to retain control of disciplinary forces, does not choose to appoint Tong as Commissioner behind the scenes merely for his determination to combat corruption. After all, the fact that Tong was appointed in the ICAC reflected a limitation on his proficiency as a professional. However, since the People’s Liberation Army are withheld from exercising its jurisdiction in Hong Kong’s daily matters, Beijing can only rely on Hong Kong’s disciplinary forces in order to assert control over the territory. After all, the Chinese Government demands loyalty from disciplinary forces. Hence, since the handover, the Mainland has been heavily relying on high-ranked officials in disciplinary forces to represent Beijing at the Hong Kong stage. After officials from the Security Bureau and the Immigration Department retired, these governmental officers who are favoured by Beijing are either promoted to higher offices, or become an integral part of the pro-Beijing camp (e.g. Regina Ip), or granted with offices as representatives at the National People’s Congress (e.g. Ambrose Lee) or members of the National Committee of CPPCC (e.g. Timothy Tong). The frequent interactions and clear communication channels between Tong, Beijing officials and the Liaison Office has signaled not only private relationships of interest, but also permeation or even intervention by the Mainland into the administration of disciplinary forces.

Current Affairs Board 3: Scandals of Former Commissioner of ICAC - Timothy Tong  
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