23 February 2019
Hong Kong is ranked the fourth lowest in terms of business bribery risk, according to Global Business Bribery Risk Index released by TRACE International. Photo: Sina
Hong Kong is ranked the fourth lowest in terms of business bribery risk, according to Global Business Bribery Risk Index released by TRACE International. Photo: Sina

Promoting anti-corruption efforts with TV dramas

The Chinese anti-graft TV drama “In the Name of People” made a high-profile debut last month. Interestingly, senior officials of Hong Kong’s anti-graft agency, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), are also fans of the mainland TV series.

Simon Peh Yun-lu, Commissioner of ICAC, said he had watched all the episodes. Yau Shu-chun, director of Investigation of ICAC, also said the TV series is quite intriguing.

Both Peh and Yau are amazed at the high standard of the drama as well as its explicit description of high-level government corruption in China.

It’s reported that the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Chinese Communist Party’s anti-corruption organ, has directly offered inputs on the storylines of many episodes. Also, the leading characters in the drama are well drafted and played.

Zhou Meisen, a renowned writer of political novels and dramas, said his previous anti-corruption scripts have been heavily revised. “I’ve already prepared that this time I need to have at least 1,000 revisions and delete five episodes,” Zhou said. Surprisingly, “In the Name of People” was approved by the watchdog within just 10 days.

In fact, the show was produced by the Film and TV Center under the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, the national agency responsible for investigating corruption in China.

It has also been backed by various government agencies, including the Central Military Commission, apart from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

It’s reported that Zhou has visited several disgraced high-ranking party cadres in prison and had long conversations with them.

Zhou said most officials have become corrupted either due to a wrong decision made in a moment of weakness or being dragged into it by their relatives or friends.

“I never want to demonize them,” Zhou said.

Interestingly, Xiang Junbo, the disgraced former top Chinese insurance regulator, has written screenplays for at least two TV series on the perils of corruption in his early days.

“Power corrupts,” Zhou added.

The show has become a hot topic in China since its debut on March 28.

Meanwhile, Peh and Yau pointed out that Hong Kong’s ICAC used the media to promote the concept of anti-corruption as early as 40 years ago.

For example, the first anti-graft TV drama “The Silent Reform” was rolled out in 1975. The TV show offered an account of the notorious police chief superintendent Peter Fitzroy Godber and the establishment of ICAC.

“ICAC Investigators” is another long-running TV series about the work of the ICAC.

Although there have been a number of high-profile corruption trials in Hong Kong in recent years, Peh and Yau noted that Hong Kong is ranked the 15th least corrupt place among 176 countries/territories in the Corruption Perceptions Index 2016, tabulated by Transparency International, moving up three ranks from the year before.

Also, the city is ranked the 4th among 199 places and tops the Asia list in the 2016 Global Business Bribery Risk Index.

On a score of 0-100, with 0 being the lowest risk, Hong Kong had a risk score of 17, improving from 23 earlier. 

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 19

Translation by Julie Zhu with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]


Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

EJI Weekly Newsletter

Please click here to unsubscribe