Bill to expand anti graft agency’s power “soon in legislative process”

Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Issue 615, Page 3
Word count: 872
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

The bill which is to expand the Commission Against Corruption’s (CCAC) jurisdiction to private sector was expected to enter the legislative process “very soon”, the anti graft agency said yesterday.

Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah announced while presenting his 2008 Policy Address at the Legislative Assembly that power of CCAC would be extended to outside the public sector.

Speaking at the press conference that concluded their performance in 2008, Endy Tou Wai Fong, the Deputy Commissioner of CCAC, said a special work group was formed including members of CCAC to draft the bill, which was already completed and submitted to the government along with research reports and supplementary information at the end of last year.

“It is believed that the bill will be discussed within the Executive Council and then passed on to the Legislative Assembly shortly,” Ms Tou said.

According to the Deputy Commissioner, the work group had studied relevant experience of Hong Kong and also looked at the actual conditions and legal practise of Macau before outlining the bill.

“The bill was drafted based on the principles of the United Nations Convention against Corruption to strictly punish bribees who do something illegitimate in return for personal interests,” Ms Tou said.

She added that the expansion of CCAC’s jurisdiction was a “policy of the SAR government” and the commission had submitted its study to the government in June last year.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Cheong U said at the press conference that CCAC would strive to complete all of the investigation in relations to former secretary Ao Man Long in the first half of this year.

The trial involving another bribery and money laundering case of Ao will begin at 9.30am tomorrow in the Court of Final Appeal.

The Commissioner said the “most urgent part” of the investigation was already completed in 2007.

However, he added that CCAC would still need to spend a lot of efforts in retrieving illegitimate assets the former secretary had kept outside of Macau such as in the UK and “hunting down the other suspects who are still on the run”.

The court in Hong Kong last week granted a confiscation order sought by the Macau government to recover the HK$23 million worth of assets Ao and his relatives retained in the neighbouring SAR before the corruption scandal was exposed.

In addition, in face of the Legislative Council and Chief Executive elections this year, the Commissioner stressed that CCAC was “highly concerned” about tackling election-related corruption activities and would “greatly reinforce publicity in the community about the revised penalties for such kind of offense”.

The amended electoral laws state that people who are convicted of corruption in elections must be sentenced to jail which cannot be replaced by probation or an equivalent fine.

“If prevention work has already done in full capacity and there are still people who engage in bribery activities, CCAC must combat such crime and we believe that Macau residents also can’t tolerate this kind of behaviour in society,” Cheong said.

The Commissioner also said that an internal team was set up to focus on corruption prevention for this year’s elections as well as to strengthen communications with the electoral affairs commission.

“We hope that the effectiveness in tackling election-related corruption this year will be enhanced than previous years,” Cheong added.

According to Vu Ka Vai, the advisor to CCAC, a trial relating to a corruption case in the 2005 Legislative Council election will be carried out in October this year.

Statistics of 2008

CCAC received a total of 796 cases last year, up by 8.2 percent over the preceding year, which the Commissioner said was “within a normal range of increase”.

Of the cases, 10 were transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office, including four were in connection to Ao Man Long’s money laundering and bribe-taking activities.

Meanwhile, 374 of the cases were reported by residents who were willing to disclose their names or other personal details, which accounted for the biggest proportion of 47 percent.

“The figure shows that the public has increased their trust in us, but we are still eager to see a further increase in the number,” Cheong said.

CCAC also received 368 anonymous complaints from the public, accounting for 46.2 percent of the total cases in 2008.

In addition, most of the 796 cases were reported in the form of mails or letters at 38.7 percent, followed by phone calls at 27.4 percent and in person at the CCAC office at 19.1 percent.

Other forms included emails, fax, or self initiated by CCAC.

The Commissioner said he hoped in the future there would be more people making complaints to CCAC in person.

“The less than 20 percent proportion reflects that there is a big room for improvement. By strengthening publicity campaigns we hope the figure will see a positive growth,” he added.

With regards to the integrity management project, all the 61 government departments or agencies have signed up for it and set out their own “internal integrity rules”.

A public seminar to spread the importance of a clean election was held in Iao Hon last night. Another event of the same kind will be held in the S. Domingos Market near Senado Square at 8pm on February 26.

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