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Speech by SCS at Workshop on Common Law Offence of Misconduct in Public Office and Integrity Management in Civil Service (English only) (With photo)

     Following is the opening speech by the Secretary for the Civil Service, Miss Denise Yue, at the Workshop on the Common Law Offence of Misconduct in Public Offence and Integrity Management in the Civil Service today (June 8):


     Good afternoon. A very warm welcome to you all. I am glad to see so many familiar faces here today in support of our Ethical Leadership Programme Workshop.
     The Hong Kong Civil Service is a permanent, honest, meritocratic, professional and politically neutral institution.  We pride ourselves on having a high standard of ethics and integrity.  I am sure all of you would agree ethics are the bedrock on which good governance is built; and integrity is the core value of an honest civil service.  However, these statements may seem a bit too vague, even to the extent of being empty rhetoric.

     As pragmatic leaders, you need concrete guidelines to show the men and women in your organisations how to conduct themselves as public officers of integrity and discharge their duties in an ethical manner.  The Civil Service Code and the voluminous CSRs dealing with subjects ranging from conflict of interest and indebtedness to acceptance of advantages etc provide detailed guidelines for this purpose.  The well- established requirements of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (Cap 201) are also important tools to shape the integrity of public officers.

     In recent years, we have started to see more prosecutions for the common law offence of "Misconduct in Public Office" (in short, "MIPO") for cases involving elements of corruption or conflict of interest.  For example, only some weeks ago, a civil servant was convicted of MIPO for stocking up and re-selling postal stationery items for personal profit.  He was sentenced to perform 100 hours of community service for his improper conduct.  Another civil servant was convicted of MIPO several years ago for exerting improper influence over the award of contracts with a company in which his relatives had a financial interest.  This civil servant was sentenced to 30 months' imprisonment.

     Compared to the various CSRs and the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance, MIPO does not seem so familiar to us.  We are less clear about the definition of this offence and are not quite sure how to avoid committing the offence.  This is why we have arranged this afternoon for experts in this field to talk to you.

     Mr Ian McWalters, Director of Public Prosecution, is the leading authority on the law of bribery and corruption in Hong Kong.  He has devoted a full chapter to the subject of MIPO in his often cited book "Bribery and Corruption Law in Hong Kong".  Some of you may even have sought his professional advice in this area already.  I am sure we will be greatly enlightened by his talk on "The Role of Misconduct in Public Office in Developing an Ethical Civil Service".

     Mr Jeremy Lo, an Assistant Commissioner from the ICAC, will talk about the management of risk in the context of MIPO.  Prior to his working in the Community Relations Department of the ICAC, Mr Lo was a seasoned investigator and has rich experience in handling MIPO cases.

     The second part of today's workshop focuses on integrity management. Mr William Tang, Director of Management Services of the Hong Kong Police Force, will share with us the Police best practices in integrity management.  He will show us how important it is to have commitment and drive from top management if we ever hope to have effective integrity management in an organisation.

     It is a pity that I cannot stay behind on account of a meeting which I have to attend.  Before I leave, I would like to say a few words on the most topical issue in the community these days, and that is the 2012 constitutional reform package.

     Hong Kong's constitutional development has reached a critical stage for, in a fortnight's time, the Legislative Council will decide on the Government's constitutional reform package for the 2012 Chief Executive and Legislative Council elections.  The Government's proposed package will enhance the democratic elements of the electoral methods for the Chief Executive and the Legislative Council through the participation of elected District Council members who have a broad electoral base.  For the Legislative Council election, in particular, no more "traditional" functional constituency seats will be created, and 41 seats, close to 60% of all seats, will be returned through direct or indirect geographical elections.

     The proposed package is a vital step forward towards greater democracy and, indeed, universal suffrage. The Government will continue to strive to gain the support of the community and of the Legislative Council for this proposed package.

     Civil servants are the backbone of the Government and must give their best to serve the Chief Executive and the Government of the day in formulating, explaining and implementing policies, as well as in conducting administrative duties.  We must demonstrate through our words and deeds that we are a quality civil service with vision and dedication to serving the people of Hong Kong.

     Lastly, may I take this opportunity to thank our guest speakers, Mr McWalters, Mr Lo and Mr Tang, for taking time out of their busy schedule to share their expertise with us.  May I also wish all of you a productive and rewarding workshop.

     Thank you.

Ends/Tuesday, June 8, 2010
Issued at HKT 16:23


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