ICAC can help enhance integrity of BRI projects

Updated: 2018-11-19 07:28

By Tony Kwok(HK Edition)

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Tony Kwok makes a powerful case for letting the agency manage anti-corruption protocols in Belt and Road projects to ensure they are transparent

At a recent seminar co-organized by the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Hong Kong SAR and the Better Hong Kong Foundation, entitled "China's 40 Years of Reform and Opening-Up: Implications for the World and Role of Hong Kong", Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in her speech that the city had played a significant and unique role in the 40-year journey: "We are a contributor as well as a beneficiary in China's reform and opening-up."

On the future role of Hong Kong in the country's further reform and opening-up, Lam said, among other things, that the Independent Commission Against Corruption had been sharing its rich experience in fighting corruption in Hong Kong with countries and institutions along the Belt and Road Initiative routes to enhance their integrity.

The BRI involves many infrastructure loans and development projects in participating countries and it is of paramount importance that a high level of integrity should be ensured in such projects. When China established the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank to finance the projects, its president Jin Liqun stressed that the bank would place the highest priority on integrity management for its loans and infrastructure projects. To highlight his awareness that all AIIB activities should be beyond reproach, he joked that the Western media would be eagerly hunting for the first corruption scandal involving AIIB's loan projects!

ICAC can help enhance integrity of BRI projects

Not surprisingly, the ICAC is expected to play a major role in guaranteeing that the BRI projects would not be stained by any improprieties. Indeed the ICAC has earned its reputation as the world's premier anti-corruption force. It has turned a once most corrupt metropolitan city into an exemplary corruption-free world city. In the process, it has become the mecca for other countries eager to learn the secrets of its success. Thus empowering ICAC to introduce and monitor anti-corruption protocols in BRI projects would greatly enhance the prospect of them having a successful outcome.

Every year, the ICAC plays host to many high-level delegations from different countries eager to adopt its methodology. It is the co-founder of the first International Anti-Corruption Conference together with the Office of Inspector General of the United States. ICAC played an active role in supporting the Supreme People's Procuratorate in the establishment of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities, which is the equivalent of Interpol for anti-corruption agencies. Every other year, ICAC hosts an international ICAC Symposium which has become a major biennial event for anti-corruption agencies around the world for experience sharing and to intensify their professional collaborations. Its training institute offers places for overseas anti-corruption officers. ICAC was set up in 1974 and is the first one to come up with a comprehensive three-pronged anti-corruption strategy of prevention, education and deterrence. Since then many other countries have established their national anti-corruption agencies largely along the Hong Kong model. They include many BRI countries such as the Brunei Anti-Corruption Bureau in 1982; Philippines' Office of the Ombudsman in 1987; Pakistan National Accountability Bureau in 1999; Thailand National Counter Corruption Bureau in 1999; South Korea's Korean Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2002 (later reorganized as Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission in 2008); Indonesia Corruption Eradication Commission in 2003; Agency of the Republic of Kazakhstan for the Fight Against Economic and Corruptive Crime in 2003; Bangladesh Anti-Corruption Commission in 2004; Bhutan Anti-Corruption Commission in 2005; Kyrgyz Republic National Anti-Corruption Commission in 2005; Mongolia Independent Authority Against Corruption in 2006; Nepal Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority in 2007; Fiji-Independent Commission Against Corruption in 2007; Afghanistan High Office of Oversight and Anti-Corruption in 2008; Cambodia Anti-Corruption Commission in 2010; Timor Leste Anti-Corruption Commission in 2010 and Myanmar Anti-Corruption Commission in 2013 etc.

Since my retirement from the ICAC, partnering with my retired colleagues, we have been running Postgraduate Certificate Courses on Corruption Studies for the Hong Kong University SPACE and so far, over 40 countries, mostly BRI countries, have sent their representatives to this course. I have also accepted invitations to visit 26 countries to provide anti-corruption consultancy and training.

In fact, many BRI countries have already benefitted from ICAC's experience and expertise. What we can do to take this forward is to set up a BRI Anti-Corruption Academy and to continue offering courses to BRI government and anti-corruption officials, including courses on corruption prevention in handling infrastructure projects. Hong Kong is renowned for integrity of management in infrastructure projects such as Chek Lap Kok airport. By capitalizing on our strengths in ensuring the integrity of BRI projects, Hong Kong's reputation as an international banking, financial services and logistics hub can only be further enhanced.

(HK Edition 11/19/2018 page7)