Before the establishment of the Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC) in 1974, Hong Kong’s police department was in charge with the fight against corruption. The commission was established by Governor Sir Murray MacLehose back when the country was under the British rule. The main goal of the commission is to get rid of corruption in the government through a three-pronged strategy that includes law enforcement, prevention, and community education.
After the nation’s reunification with mainland China in 1997, the Basic Law guaranteed the independent status of the ICAC and its direct accountability to Hong Kong’s chief executive. The Basic Law is a constitutional document for the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).
A commissioner stands as the head of the ICAC. Since 1997, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China has been appointing the commissioner according to the recommendations of the chief executive of Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s main anti-corruption law is the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (POBO). This ordinance encompasses various forms of corruption both in the public and private sectors. Vested in the ICAC ordinance, law enforcers can implement arrest, detention, as well as search and seizure. Other than the POBO, the commission is also responsible for the enforcement of the Elections (Corruption and Illegal Conduct) ordinance. This ordinance is mainly concerned about corruption and other illegal activities in different public elections. The ordinance also governs elections of the Chief Executive, as well as the legislative and district councils.
As an anti-corruption agency, the ICAC works actively with other departments of the government, regulatory institutions, and public organizations. According to ICAC lawyers in Hong Kong, the commission uses a holistic strategy in fighting corruption by addressing both its symptoms and root causes. They do this by implementing solid law enforcement, strategic prevention measures, and extensive community education.
Today, the ICAC remains an efficient independent body that upholds high standards in performing their duties. The result is a more transparent and honest government and private sector all helping to build a robust economy.
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