( November 4, 2016, Hong Kong SAR, Sri Lanka Guardian) Hong Kong is performing quite well in the fight against corruption when compared with the rest of the world, said Mr José Carlos Ugaz, Chair of Transparency International (TI), an international anti-graft watchdog.
Upon the invitation of the ICAC, Mr Ugaz paid a visit to Hong Kong last month for the first time to learn first-hand the anti-corruption work of the city.
During his two-day visit to Hong Kong, Mr Ugaz met with Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, other government officials as well as academics and representatives from non-governmental organisations.
When Mr Ugaz visited the ICAC, Commissioner Mr Simon Peh Yun-lu and senior directorate officers briefed him on Hong Kong’s latest probity situation, the development of the Commission’s enforcement work and corruption prevention initiatives, and its efforts to engage the community in promoting a probity culture.
In addition, Mr Peh exchanged views with Mr Ugaz on some issues relating to anti-corruption work. On the recent departure of a senior ICAC officer, Mr Peh explained the issue to Mr Ugaz, and stressed that it had absolutely nothing to do with any investigations.
Mr Ugaz also took this opportunity to meet representatives of foreign news agencies and local media organisations to share his views on Hong Kong’s anti-corruption work.
At the media interview, Mr Ugaz said he believed that the ICAC is one of the strong allies in the fight against corruption as he was particularly impressed with its holistic three-pronged strategy in fighting corruption through investigation, prevention and education.
“The ICAC has been a key player in substantially reducing corruption in Hong Kong… it sets an example for the world on how to deal with such a problem,” Mr Ugaz said.
“When the ICAC was built in this city and started achieving all the successes… immediately it came to be a model to be exported. And one of the ways many countries have found is to replicate what Hong Kong did 40 years ago.”
Since 1995, the TI has launched its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). Hong Kong remains one of the cleanest places in the world, with its ranking at the top 20 among countries and territories surveyed.
In the CPI 2015 released early this year, Hong Kong was ranked the 18th least corrupt place among 168 countries and territories, with its score rising by one point from 74 in 2014 to 75 in 2015.
Mr Ugaz said Hong Kong has been in a good position in the CPI as a place with low level of corruption. “Being in a position where Hong Kong is 75 points, I think it’s a good position. [The city] has an environment with low corruption… If you look at our index, Hong Kong is performing quite well,” he said at the media interview.
During his visit to the ICAC, Mr Ugaz, accompanied by Dr Srirak Plipat, Regional Director of Asia Pacific Department at TI, also toured various facilities of the Commission, including the exhibition hall, video interview room, report centre, detention centre and training facilities.
Established in 1993, TI is the global civil society organisation leading the fight against corruption. With more than 100 national chapters worldwide and a secretariat in Berlin, it works with partners in government, business and civil society to put effective measures in place to tackle corruption.
For viewing the video of Mr Ugaz’s media interview, please click here.
Rule of Law Index 2016
Meanwhile, the US-based World Justice Project released its Rule of Law Index 2016 in late October. Hong Kong was ranked the eighth in the factor of “absence of corruption” among 113 countries and territories, two places higher than the 10th last year, with its score improving from 0.84 in 2015 to 0.85 in 2016.
In measuring “absence of corruption”, four indicators were assessed: “no corruption in the executive branch”, “no corruption in the judiciary”, “no corruption in the police/military”, and “no corruption in the legislature”. On a scale of 0-1, with 0 representing the most corrupt and 1 representing the least corrupt, Hong Kong’s scores of these four indicators this year ranged from 0.75 to 0.93.
Commenting on the Rule of Law Index 2016, Mr Peh said he was pleased to note that Hong Kong’s ranking in “absence of corruption” had improved from the 10th in 2015 to the 8th in 2016, notwithstanding the number of places covered in the index increasing from 102 to 113.
“Regardless of the ranking, the ICAC will continue to discharge its anti-corruption duties rigorously. Through a three-pronged strategy of enforcement, prevention and education, it will continue to keep corruption in check, and to maintain a clean civil service and a level playing field for business,” Mr Peh said.
“The ICAC will also continue to update the international community on the actual probity situation in Hong Kong and its endeavours to uphold a clean society.”
‘Absence of corruption’ under Rule of Law Index 2016: Ranks and scores
|15||United Arab of Emirates||0.80|
|(Source: World Justice Project)|
Hong Kong’s scores of indicators under ‘absence of corruption’
|No corruption in the executive branch||0.81||0.80|
|No corruption in the judiciary||0.91||0.90|
|No corruption in the police/military||0.93||0.93|
|No corruption in the legislature||0.75||0.76|
|(Source: Rule of Law Indexes 2015 & 2016, World Justice Project)|