IPCMC - Follow Hong Kongs example

In the light of the recent report that the new police chief is not happy with the setting up of IPCMC, may I suggest that we look into the possibility of setting up an Independent Commission Against Corrupt Practices (ICAC).

This commission will have wide power to tackle problems of corruption, not only in investigation, but also in arresting and prosecuting those involved in the evil of corrupt practices, be it in the public and private sectors. This should reassure our police force that they are not being singled out and victimised in the fight against corrupt practices.

Corruption is like cancer and to eradicate it we need total commitment. Just like treatment for cancer, half-hearted measures will certainly not succeed. Tackling corruption requires a three-pronged approach of enforcement, prevention and education.

In this respect, the setting up of an Anti-corruption Academy as proposed by the Prime Minister on his assuming the premiership three years ago is an important link and should be welcome by all of us. We hope that there would not be any more delay in the setting up of this academy, as we have lost much time already in the fight against corruption.

Perhaps there is plenty for us to learn from the history of how Hong Kong was transformed from a most corrupted place to one of the least in the world.

In the early 70s, it was not uncommon to have ambulance drivers soliciting tea money before transporting sick patients, firemen asking for tea money before turning on taps, police officers covering up vice, gambling and drug money. Everything that involved government and public agencies needed "tea money".

Following a well-publicised case of corruption against the then police chief Peter Godber, there was a big uproar among the people and the government was forced to set up a commission of inquiry to investigate corrupt practices in the territory. The commission recommended the setting up of an independent body to fight corruption.

I would like to quote the then Hong Kong governor Sir Murray MacLehose's speech when he argued for the setting up of the ICAC in Hong Kong. He said, "I think the situation calls for an organisation, led by men of high rank and status, which can devote its whole time to the eradication of this evil; a further and conclusive argument is that public confidence is very much involved. Clearly, the public would have more confidence in a unit that is entirely independent and separate from any department of the government, including the police."

Hong Kong has since come a long way and its civil service, especially the police, is acknowledged as one of the best and most efficient.

Sir McLehose's recommendation was not only good for Hong Kong, it will certainly be good to any country with similar problems. Although corruption in our country has not reached that alarming stage, it is undoubtedly still a very serious problem. I would therefore like to urge the prime minister to seriously consider what McLehose said to Hong Kong people almost 30 years ago and set up an Independent Commission Against Corrupt Practices.

This commission should also have power to investigate misconducts and abuse of power and should be answerable only to our Parliament.