By Poyi (Natalie) Leung
Graft buster Vasco Fong Man Chong has reiterated that the anti-corruption agency never intended to cover up the departure of the two former deputies, which he also believed will not harm the credibility of the agency.
Speaking to reporters after the inauguration of the new deputy Kuan Kun Hong at the Commission Against Corruption’s (CCAC) headquarters yesterday, Fong said the news about Afonso Chan Seak Hou and Endy Tou Wai Fong’s departure was not announced initially because the agency hoped to wait until their successors were confirmed.
“The individual being invited to take up the post as deputy commissioner also needed a few days to consider whether to accept the job or not, and the appointment had to be approved by the Chief Executive at last so it wasn’t appropriate to disclose the news before such an approval was obtained,” the anti-corruption commissioner explained.
In addition, Fong said the change in the senior officials might affect other colleagues still working at the agency, and thus it was necessary to first ensure that the internal operation would not encounter any problems after Chan and Tou returned to their previous posts at the Public Prosecutions Office.
“The CCAC did not intentionally try to hide or delay the announcement of the two former deputies’ departure. It was unnecessary for the CCAC to do so and there was no way for the news to be coved up,” Fong said.
However, the graft buster vowed that the agency will learn from this experience and try to avoid the same situation from happening again.
According to a brief press statement issued on January 4, Chan and Tou, who had been in their posts since the establishment of the Macau SAR in late 1999, left the CCAC on December 20, 2010 because of “personal reasons”, but no further details were given.
Different assumptions regarding the “sudden” departure of both experienced corruption fighters started to rise over the past week.
When asked whether Chan and Tou were discontent with the “obstruction” from within the agency to prosecute certain people allegedly involved in corruption, Fong said he was not aware of this conjecture and would not comment on it.
“They [Chan and Tou] already had the desire to change the working environment and leave the CCAC a year ago. But since the third-term SAR Government just commenced I invited them to stay for one more year. Right now they felt that they had already completed their tasks and so they left,” Fong said.
He also stressed that the two senior officials did not “resign” but chose not to renew their appointments at the end of last year.
Nevertheless, the graft buster said he “fully recognises” the work and contribution of his former deputies.
Amid concerns that two experienced top officials departed at the same time and Fong has only led the CCAC for about a year now, the commissioners assured that the agency’s operation “should not be influenced by individual changes”, adding that the agency has “always worked as a team”.
Board to restructure
Newly appointed deputy commissioner Kuan Kun Hong, who has been an advisor to the CCAC since late 1999, said his main concerns when deciding whether or not to accept the new job were that he would need to shoulder “greater responsibility, enjoy less freedom and individual privacy”.
Kuan said the Anti-Corruption Board that he is also heading will be restructured this year and has plans to recruit more professionals, enhance the detection equipment and also reinforce staff professional training, in order to handle the increasing workloads after the agency expanded its power to the private sector in March 2010.
In addition, he disclosed that the officials’ assets declaration system will only release the “main part” of assets information to the public, due to concerns about invasion of individual privacy.
He said experts are studying which details shall or shall not be disclosed and the CCAC is working on the draft law based on the experiences of other advanced countries and regions.
The post previously held by Endy Tou Wai Fong is still vacant and it is not known when her successor will be named. For now, Ivo Donat Firmo Mineiro is the acting deputy commissioner.