We’re bored – let’s crucify a shoe-shiner

“The pressure … has been growing steadily, with the media exposing more dinners than previously recorded.”

Thus Hong Kong’s latest mega-scandal is born. Dinnergate.

The story in a nutshell: former Independent Commission Against Corruption boss Timothy Tong allegedly misused public funds by treating himself, various contacts – notably Mainland officials – and a few friends to meals and various gifts. He also spent a good three or four times more on overseas trips than his predecessor and successor.

The beneficiaries were more or less the sort of people you would expect the anti-graft chief to see, and the gifts themselves were borderline insulting. For example, the Procurator-General of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate got a crappy digital photo frame. So the dinners are what we’re really getting worked up about.

His girlfriend and former colleague Helen Chan, who some may consider looks hot in uniform, was at some of the meals (and says Tong paid for them himself). There’s lots of stuff about how he turned up to the office late and, when he wasn’t brewing herbal medicine, snoozed in the afternoons. Mainly, though it’s about wining, dining and flattering – with such items as grotesquely expensive cookies – Mainland officials and institutions. The Democratic Party’s Emily Lau is getting onto the case, and even the pro-establishment Standard’s editorial declares that “she should be pardoned for screaming her head off” over the affair.

The reason for all this is the suspicion that Tong was buttering up these people to get himself appointed to the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which he did indeed join after leaving the ICAC last year. High-minded persons would see something not a million miles from bribery in such a quid pro quo. Skeptics and cynics, on the other hand, may think anyone lobbying to get into the pointless and powerless group of retired shoe-shiners is not so much corrupt as deeply pathetic.

I would love to believe that this is all an image-raising PR stunt by the fusty old CPPCC to make us think the advisory body is so cool that people will offer backhanders to get in. Alternatively, and perhaps a tad more probably, this is part of the ongoing feuding between different parts of the Hong Kong establishment. Most likely, however, the leaks to the press are not much more than spiteful revenge by one or more of career civil servant Tong’s former underlings or peers. I myself recently received some tittle-tattle about ex-bureaucrat CK Mak of Housing-Allowance-Gate fame, which naturally I will keep to myself. (Well, OK, since it’s a Friday. Would you believe he got a minion to sneak round his department and snitch on people who came into the office late? I wouldn’t. Not a word of it.)

We might look at the Hong Kong civil service and think: “Wow, what a well-oiled, smooth-running, hyper-professional and flawless team of selfless, gifted administrators, all dedicated to serving the community.” But actually, it’s a seething nest of jealous, empire-building, backstabbing and venomous invertebrates who develop such a sense of entitlement that they use our tax dollars to buy digital picture frames. And some of them have long, festering memories about real or imagined past slights in the office.

So that’s it. I declare the weekend open with Hong Kong’s latest outbreak of high crimes and misdemeanors in public office. It’s not Bo Xilai, but it’s the best we can do.


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14 Responses to We’re bored – let’s crucify a shoe-shiner

  1. I think it’s dining and getting sloshed rather than wining and dining. He bought getting-on-for-two-thousand-dollar bottles of Moutai. That is wine in much the same way lighter fuel is gin and tonic.

    It’s not principally bribery either. It’s theft. Martin Lee, SC said so. If you expropriate any of the rights of an owner to his property, that’s theft. Just using public property without authorisation and good cause is enough.

    I used to be pedantic but now….

  2. Joe Blow says:

    … a seething nest of jealous, empire-building, backstabbing and venomous invertebrates….

    every Hong Kong office is like that.

  3. Property Developer says:

    Back to excellent form, I’m glad to see. And even “Mary” “Ma” seems to be trying a bit harder with the thesaurus and phrasal verb handbook these days.

    Are criticisms levelled against poor Timothy not a tad anti-Chinese? I personally don’t see what’s wrong with a quick nap during the lunch hour, with fine wines like Baotai or with soothing Chinese herbal tea. Or am I missing something?

  4. maugrim says:

    While you have HK office culture down to a ‘t’, I’m less than impressed by the case. Firstly, why the heck does ICAC need to have a ‘relationship’ with the central Government? I’d have thought that’s the last thing HK’ers would want of a supposedly ‘independent’ watch dog. Secondly, I feel sorry for the LCSD officer who lost his job over a $500 loan when this is a far worse case. Policemen for example are wary of accepting a free beer lest they be accused of having improper relationships. This case is hardly small beer and goes to the heart of different standards for different people.

  5. Sir Crispin says:

    How do you back-stab an invertebrate? Only the HK civil service could accomplish that.

  6. Real Tax Payer says:

    Seems by the internal standards of the ICAC our HK company is so squeaky clean you could eat a meal off the floor .

    Nay ! Could even do a sterile heart replacement op on the floor , which is something it seems even the ‘possibly corrupt’ ICAC leadership needs to perform on itself ( preferably without anesthetic)

    Makes me sick.

    PS: Helen Chan looks very good in uniform. I wonder what she looks like out of uniform ? Guess we can only ask Timothy Chong about that . BTW is Chong still officially married ? Is Ms Helen an er-nai ?

    PPS : Trial of the Century in now underway : the Peoples vs MRS Enery Tang ( no girlfriends or er- nai there, sad to day for the enery , espeially now that he has auctioned his wine collection to pay for his London Silk’s legal fees )

  7. Big Al says:

    Having just returned from a week in the Land of the Rising Sun, teaming with nubile Japanese school girls in uniform (a lot hotter that the aforementioned Ms Chan, I can assure you), it’s great to see that I missed so many storms in so many tea cups yet Hong Kong is pretty much as I left it.

    @ Joe Blow – The words “overpaid, underworked” should be inserted between “of” and “jealous” to differentiate the civil service from the rest of us …

    … and clearly describes Mr Tong – what a plonker. I mean, just look at him – does he have to practice looking that dopey or does it come naturally?Reminds me of that other civil servant (Eason Chan’s dad?) whose office was fitted with a spy camera through which the ICAC watched him snooze through the day, read the papers and count his bribe money, which I recall he said he was only doing to relax!

    We should be proud that the we have the only civil service that doubles up (albeit unwittingly) as the world’s most highly paid comedy troupe! A bargain at just HKD 355,397,198,000 for the current finanical year!

  8. oneleggoalie says:

    The man was in charge of ICAC during D. Tsang’s reign of rot…hang the bugger.

  9. Matlock QC says:

    @RTP, Its actually the fragrant Lisa on trial …Enery got let off…..

  10. maugrim says:

    Henry Tang has had no girlfriends RTP? Either you have a short memory or you are truly stupid. Even Lisa Kuo was asked on radio about his numerous affairs, not to mention his ‘love child’.

  11. Dream Bear says:

    Note to self … If ever in trouble with the law don’t employ Martin LEE as he clearly has no understanding of the Theft Ordinance. Any first year law student could tell you that Big Timothy is not guilty of ‘theft.’ At a stretch, it could ‘malfeasance in public office.’

    Perhaps of more significance is what this episode says about the culture of the ICAC. They are happy to string up others for relatively minor infractions, with the full blaze of publicity, asserting that they are keeping Hong Kong clean, but struggle to deal with the big stuff despite very draconian powers. And in recent years we have had reports of them fabricating evidence, abusiving their surveillance powers and coaching witnesses. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

  12. Property Developer says:

    Big Al, Nice to heer you were teaming up with the wearers of the panties for vending machines: hope there was lots of one-on-one and oral work.

  13. Real Tax Payer says:

    @ Maugrim

    Sorry, correction

    No listed CURRENT girlfriends for enery… ( unless he and Tong are sharing Ms Chan )

    Delicious, delightful, de-lovely. Worth paying all my taxes for this civil service soap opera . As usual we beat Singapore hands down on all such things

  14. pcatbar says:

    Hard to see how Henry showing ‘support’ for wife at trial can help when he had famously put the blame on her when the story first broke. Seems like the prosecutor thinks he had a point!

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