HongKong 2020 and Project Citizens Foundation "Public Forum: Assault on the ICAC and the Rule of Law?"

The recent ICAC shake-up has raised serious public concerns. In view of this, HongKong2020 and Project Citizens Foundation are jointly organizing a public forum - ‘Assault on the ICAC and the Rule of Law?’ with the aim to share with the public on what has gone wrong in the system and what are the threats to Hong Kong.

Today, we are pleased to invite the former Commissioner of the ICAC, Mr. Bertrand de Speville, former Chief Secretary of the HKSAR Government, Mrs. Anson Chan, former Secretary for the Civil Service, Mr. Joseph Wong, and former Legislative Councilor and Member of the ICAC Operations Review Committee, Ms. Margaret Ng, to share with us their views.

Mr. Bertrand de Speville spoke on the topic “The Evolving ICAC”. He mentioned that Section 5 of the ICAC Ordinance reads “The Commissioner, subject to the orders and control of the Chief Executive, shall be responsible for the direction and administration of the Commission” and “The Commissioner shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person other than the Chief Executive.” He then quoted Article 57 of the Basic Law that “A Commission Against Corruption shall be established in the Hong Kong SAR. It shall function independently and be accountable to the Chief Executive.” Mr. Bertrand de Speville considered that the word ‘accountable’ in the Basic Law does not mean ‘subject to the orders and control of the Chief Executive’ in section 5 of the ICAC Ordinance, nor it means ‘bound to take orders from a person’ or ‘bound to be controlled by a person’. Mr. Bertrand de Speville suggested that the law should be amended as ICAC is ‘evolving’.

Mrs. Anson Chan spoke on the topic “ICAC: We Must Keep Our Advantage”. “A wide ranging review of the functioning of the Commission was conducted in 1994 and addressed, among other things, the exercise of its powers and systems of accountability. In view of the gravity of the current threats to the independence and reputation of the ICAC I believe it is necessary to conduct a similar exercise under the auspices of an Independent Review Committee whose chairman and members are known in the community as persons of impeccable integrity” Mrs. Chan said. Mrs. Chan absolutely agreed with Ms. Emily Lau, the Chairman of the Democratic Party, when she said “If the ICAC is finished, Hong Kong is also finished.”

Mr. Joseph Wong discussed with the audience on “The two pillars of Hong Kong's good governance — ICAC and the Civil Service”, while Ms. Margaret Ng talked about the issue of “independence”, “abuse” and “vulnerability”.

Mr. T L Tsim, Chairman of the Project Citizens Foundation, said in his opening remarks that in 2012, the former Chief Justice Andrew Li headed an independent commission which looked into “Potential Conflicts of Interests”, and Mr. Li pointed out that it would be “totally inappropriate” for the CE to decide for himself whether he could accept an advantage; he further pointed out that “the CE should not be above the law”. Mr. Tsim said the then CE Elect Mr. C Y Leung had welcome these recommendations and had said he would consider them seriously and implement them as soon as possible. However, Mr. Tsim pointed out that four years have passed and there has been no sign that this will come to pass.

For more details of the speeches of speakers, please visit the website of the Project Citizens Foundation: http://www.projectcitizens.hk/en