Comments on the Strategic Plan & Staff Proposal of ICAC, Mauritius
Tony Kwok Man Wai, SBS, IDS,
Former Deputy Commissioner and Head of Operations, ICAC, Hong Kong,
on the Parliamentary Committee,
Comments on the Strategic Plan & Staff Proposal of ICAC, Mauritius
I was invited by the Commissioner, ICAC to visit Mauritius on the occasion of my retirement this month to advise the Commission on the set-up, organization structure, staff requirement and budget implications of the new Commission. I have worked in the ICAC for 27 years. I joined the ICAC as an Investigator shortly after its inception in 1975 and was subsequently promoted through a number of ranks to be the first local Head of Operations in 1996, and had successfully led the Operations Department of the ICAC through the historical milestone of the Reunification of Hong Kong with the Mainland China. On this year’s Honour List, I was awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star Medal, which is designed to replace the O.B.E. in the colonial era. I had earlier received a Distinguished Service Medal, in recognition of my ICAC service.
Having been a pioneer corruption fighter for 27 years and, HK ICAC, being one of the first anti-corruption agencies set up in the world, I have developed a strong passion for anti-corruption mission. It is now my intention to provide voluntary service to other countries who may wish to share my experience in anti-corruption work, as a personal contribution to the fight against the evil of corruption which is now recognized as a world problem. Hence, my opinion in this report is purely based on my strong commitment to fight against the evil of corruption effectively.
- In my 27 years with the ICAC, I have witnessed Hong Kong being transformed from probably the most corrupt British Colony to one of the least corrupt cities in the world. I agree with the report that the success factors in fighting corruption in any country are top political will, public support and a professional anti-corruption agency.
- Top political support should include providing adequate resources to set up and run a professional anti-corruption agency. In Hong Kong, the ICAC’s annual recurrent budget (not including capital expenditure) is HK$700M (2.6 billion Rupees) for the current year. Hong Kong’s population is 6.8M people and this translates to HK$102(380 Rupees) per capita per annum. In other words, the equivalent annual recurrent budget based on Hong Kong’s formula for the Mauritius ICAC is 456M Rupees. In my opinion, any budget less than this amount cannot be regarded as excessive. According to the United Nation’s report, foreign investment is affected heavily by the corrupt state of the country and a clean and corruption-free environment would attract additional foreign investment of at least 1% GNP. Hence any investment in anti-corruption, amongst other political and social benefits, makes economic sense for the country.
- From my experience in the early stage of the ICAC, it is vitally important to the success of the war against corruption that ICAC should be seen to produce an overtly strong deterrent effect right from the start. Corruption derives from greed, a human nature and is not necessarily restricted to the poor. Those who engaged in corruption might not be deterred by harsh law or sentence, but they would be deterred if they recognized that there would be a good chance of them being exposed. Hence, our mission is “to make corruption a high-risk crime”. The rationale is that it is unrealistic to uncover all cases of corruption, as the crime is secretive and often involve just two satisfied persons. But it is important to demonstrate to the corrupt and potential corrupt that if they engage in corruption, they stand more than a 50% chance of being caught by the ICAC. To achieve that mission, you need an overtly strong and effective investigative force.
- I agree with the three pronged strategy in fighting corruption, i.e. investigation, prevention and education. Hong Kong’s experience is that it should be primarily investigation-led, particularly at its early stage. Corruption prevention assignments should be taken based on corruption cases discovered in investigation or intelligence gathering. Public education should initially focus on mobilizing public support in reporting corruption, in identifying themselves as the complainants and be prepared to give evidence in court if required.
- I agree generally with the proposed establishment of the Investigation Division in that it should consist of a core number of Investigation Sections, each consisting of 1 Chief Investigator, 4 Senior Investigators and 4 Investigators. From my experience, this is an ideal formula for an investigation unit in that each Senior Investigator can pair with an Investigator and form a close partnership. They can be allocated individual cases or aspects of a case to work together and the Senior Investigator will be given clear responsibility as case officer, under the direct supervision of the Chief Investigator. During search operations and interviews, they can also work in pairs, and the Senior Investigator should also act as a mentor and be responsible for the performance and training of the Investigator. This combination is particularly useful when the Commission has to recruit large number of new and inexperienced officers who desperately need on the job guidance.
- For a new set-up of the Commission and in view of its uniqueness, it is crucial that it should have an attractive pay package in order to attract people of the right caliber and experience urgently to enable the Commission to function. In the Hong Kong experience when the Commission was set up, we offered a salary structure which was higher than in the civil service and the business sector, plus a special allowance as an incentive for people to join the Commission.
- Corruption is one of the most difficult crimes to investigate. The corrupts are often intelligent and knowledgeable and take advantage of the high technology to cover up their corrupt acts. In my view, apart from the core investigation sections, there should be strong operational support sections, and the following are essential for the reasons given :
1. Intelligence Section
As a central point to collect, collate, analyze and disseminate all intelligence and investigation data, otherwise there may be major breakdown in communication and operations
2. Surveillance Section
A very important source of evidence and intelligence. In the Hong Kong ICAC, we have a dedicated surveillance unit of over 120 surveillance agents and they have made significant contribution to the success of a number of major cases
3. Technical Services Section
Provide essential technical support to surveillance and operations
4. Information Technology Section
It is important that all investigation data should be managed by computer at the start, or extra resources would be required for future computerization, which is a matter of time. In this modern age, most personal and company data are stored in computers and ICAC must possess the ability to break into these computers seized during searches to examine their stored data. Computer forensic is regarded as vital for all law enforcement agencies worldwide these days
5. Internal Investigation and Monitoring Section
To have the public confidence and support, ICAC must maintain a clean internal image. In Hong Kong, the ICAC officers are expected to be “whiter than white” and are subject to a stricter code of ethics than their counterparts in the civil service. To maintain such internal integrity, it is essential to set up this section to take up the responsibility in vetting new recruits, investigating internal complaints and carrying out monitoring on suspected employees
The United Nations is currently drafting a Convention on the Fight Against Corruption, which is recognized as a worldwide problem. I congratulate the Mauritius Government in taking the initiative to set up an Independent Commission to fight against corruption, which demonstrates political determination and foresight. The Prevention of Corruption Act 2002 is a good piece of legislation and forms a good foundation for tackling corruption. With the support of the Government and the public, and given the adequate resources and commitment of staff, I see no reason why ICAC Mauritius cannot be another success model of anti-corruption agency in the world.