Misconduct charges filed by Hong Kong’s graft agency against Donald Tsang are too little too late, some politicians and academics say.
The former chief executive appeared in court Monday, accused of two counts of misconduct in public office.
The investigation was too slow and the charges too lenient, critics were quoted as saying by public broadcaster RTHK.
Politician and senior counsel Ronny Tong said the three years it took to bring charges against Tsang had shaken public confidence in the judiciary.
Even if the Department of Justice needed to consult with an overseas counsel, the entire process should have taken just two to three months, Tong said.
He said there was no reason prosecutors should take such a long time to press formal charges.
The impact of Tsang’s case on Hong Kong would dwarf that of Rafael Hui, his former No. 2, who was jailed last year for corruption, Tong said.
Ivan Choi, a senior lecturer of government and public administration in the Chinese University Hong Kong, said Tsang’s indictment hurt Hong Kong’s image as a relatively graft-free society.
However, the real damage will depend on the court’s ruling, he said.
Whether the current government would be affected depends on whether there are any government officials involved, Choi said.
Regina Ip, a security minister under the Tsang administration, said she is “naturally embarrassed” that two of her former superiors have been embroiled in corruption allegations.
Ip, who chairs the New People’s Party, said Tsang’s case “shows that a clean government is extremely important and no one is above the law”.
She said it is “a matter of evidence” that the charges against Tsang were only common law offenses because regulations on accepting advantages under the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance do not apply to the chief executive.
Tsang issued a statement through a personal assistant that he had cooperated fully with the Independent Commission Against Corruption during the three-year investigation.
He expressed confidence he will be found innocent of the charges.
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