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TONY KWOK MAN-WAI Former Deputy Commissioner and Head of Operations of the Independent Commission on Anti-Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong spoke in Manila May 6 - 8 in a series of lectures and meetings

Pera Natin 'to


Corruption has absolutely nothing to do with culture and everything to do with political and personal will.

Those who point to traditions and history are simply making the poorest of excuses and are in basic denial by simply refusing to accept personal and collective responsibility for the state they are in.

So says one of the world’s leading anti-corruption experts -- Tony Kwok, who spoke at a public forum on Friday at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City. As proof, the former Deputy Head of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in Hong Kong pointed to the overarching Chinese culture and Confucian traditions in his home town which transformed itself from being one of the most corrupt societies to one of the cleanest.

“We love money and wealth creation and the family to us is everything – but the secret is zero tolerance for corruption.”

The charismatic Kwok took delight in challenging those in the audience who imagined it would take decades for the Philippines to rid itself of the legacy of generations of graft.

In Hong Kong, he reminded people, it took just three years... Kwok reminded and showed his audience in Quezon City on Friday through graphs and charts citing reliable public opinion surveys, “all presidents of the Philippines enjoy high confidence about combating corruption at the beginning.”

The election of the past four presidents (since the period of Cory Aquino) provided a “golden opportunity” when public confidence was high. But in each case, confidence subsequently collapsed. Public confidence and political credibility, he said was one of several key factors in ensuring a successful anti-corruption strategy and result.

Political will is crucial, he insisted. “All Philippine presidents have made statements and promises about corruption, but the follow-through has been missing.”

He indicated that it was crucial for administrations to move behind the hyperbole and turn statements and promises into action. The Philippines he said enjoys some of the strongest and best laws against corruption – and yet it fell down on implementation. The Philippine law on public procurement was a perfect case in point: It was one of the best laws in the world.

And yet, Kwok said: “System and laws are not enough – it is all about enforcement.”

He demonstrated that while many South East Asian countries had their own statutory anti-corruption commissions and groups, many fell down and have proved failures when it came to implementation.

Such failures, Kwok argued, were down to such things as a lack of resources; lack of independence; the wrong strategy; inadequate laws; inadequate jurisdiction; lack of credibility and support; lack of any coalition of support; a corrupt judiciary; a lack of professional staff and a lack of public accountability and political will.

He pointed out that here in the Philippines it took on average 12 years for a corruption case to be decided in court.

And one of his recommendations for the Philippines was for an overall plan that would allow the judiciary to solve up to 90 per cent of corruption allegations and cases within 12 months...

And while many need no convincing, Kwok also made a very clear case linking economic performance to corruption.

“If you want economic growth you really need to fight corruption. Foreign investment is simply not comfortable going into countries where there is high corruption. When it comes to foreign investment, Hong Kong is very popular and the Philippines far less so. Why? Simply there is no level playing field here and foreign investment needs a level playing field. The first aspect to that is the [public] budget. If you have a good control on corruption, you have good control and input into the budget. In the Philippines you have 20-30 per cent of the public budget lost to corruption. In Hong Kong that money goes to things like public housing – the benefits are clearly obvious.”



Hong Kong graftbuster: Ombudsman needs more powers

THE government gives the ombudsman the job of fighting corruption but not the tools to so, an anti-corruption expert from Hong Kong said Friday.

Speaking at a forum at Ateneo de Manila University, former Independent Commission on Anti-Corruption Tony Kwok Man-wai said the Office of the Ombudsman has too little power, too few investigators, and not enough money.

The anti-corruption consultant also said that the Office of the Ombudsman "has no ammunition" to fight corruption because it does not even have arrest powers.

He said the ombudsman must be given the power not only to arrest corrupt public servants, but also check their bank accounts, tap their telephones, and conduct surveillance operations without the suspect's knowledge.

"Here, it is a haven for corrupt officials. They know their bank accounts cannot be checked. They know their homes cannot be searched. Nobody will listen to their phone calls, except if they are President," Kwok said.

He said that because the suspect's consent is not needed, there are few opportunities for a cover up or for political interference.

He added the most important factor in fighting corruption is political will from the President.

Kwok said political will can be measured by how much money is being used to support the drive against corruption, how strongly anti-corruption laws are being pushed, the lack of political interference in cases, and the existence of a zero-tolerance policy.

He said, however, that fighting corruption is not just the President's or the ombudsman's job, but of all government employees.



Members of Integrity Initiative Steering Committee met on 4 May 2011 with Tony Kwok, HongKong’s anti-corruption expert. He believes the Philippines has a limited window of opportunity to launch reform programs in the Aquino administration and emphasized the importance of vigilance and sustained effort in addressing corruption. While public perception is a major factor to the success of any anti-corruption initiative, this must be complemented by positive (or constructive) efforts. Among the initiatives Kwok suggests:

1. Anti-corruption trainings. One is for members of anti-corruption agencies worldwide. Some representatives from the Philippines’ Office of the Ombudsman have attended this session. The second one is “to professionalize” compliance officers, internal auditors and other members of the private sector by teaching them how to establish integrity management systems in their respective organizations.

2. Employing integrity managers. Every institution must have an integrity action plan with specific control measures. One of these measures is the assignment of an “integrity manager” tasked to oversee the implementation of the action plan. Unlike a compliance officer whose primary responsibility is to ensure legal compliance, an integrity manager puts forward proactive initiatives that promote ethical business practices.

3. Dialogue with government and private sector. There is a need for public-private discussions. Government can push for legislation, institutionalize a system to handle private sector’s complaints and inquiries, and create a foreign investors’ helpdesk. The private sector can pool resources and create an ethics development centre which consolidates resources on best practices and provides a hotline dealing with ethical issues.

4. Legislation. Tony Kwok complimented the Philippines for allowing outside observers in bids and awards procedures, something not practiced in other countries. However, further legislation is needed to penalize corruption (kickbacks, bribery) that occurs in private sector-to-private sector transactions. He said the Philippines is one of the few countries that does not provide its anti-corruption agencies a mandate to check bank accounts of suspected bribers in the Philippines.


Freidrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty

Philippines on the Right Track in Fighting Corruption

Former Commissioner and Head of Operations of HK-ICAC Tony Kwok

Former Commissioner and Head of Operations of HK-ICAC Tony Kwok

Anti-corruption expert Tony Kwok, who was also an investigator at the Office of the Ombudsman during the tenure of Simeon Marcelo, said that the Philippines is on the right track in its fight against corruption and is doing better than other countries in Asia.

The Former Commissioner and Head of Operations of
Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (HK-ICAC) presented the survey results of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) on the General Performance of the National Administration from March 4-7, 2011. Kwok noted that President Benigno Aquino’s rating initial rating of 20+ in the area of eradicating graft and corruption was unprecedented, and that it is still high but declining. In the SWS survey, the rating is now 14+. He attributed this to public perception, more than as the result of actual actions of the government. "Perception is crucial," he would emphasize several times.

Kwok said that there is nothing unique about corruption in the Philippines. He narrated how Hong Kong was very corrupt in the 1970s, where corruption was blatant and even syndicated. “Many believe that it would need a decade to eradicate corruption when it has become embedded in the society. That is false. Hong Kong was able to do it in three years,” expressed Kwok. Kwok suggested a three-pronged approach to corruption: education, prevention, and deterrence. He underscored that these three are equally important to fight corruption. More so, there should be political will to enforce a system that has a zero-tolerance to corrupt practices. “The people should at least have the perception that their government is serious about fighting corruption, that is already half the success. But of course, we have to work on all levels, in all sectors to fully address corruption. The goal is to have an ethical society that does not operate on double standards,” Kwok stressed.

Kwok is in Manila for consultation meetings. He was invited to give a lecture on Corruption in the Philippines: What went wrong? What can we do now? by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG). Kwok’s visit is timely as the Philippines welcomes the resignation of Ombudsman Merciditas Gutierrez whose leadership at the Office of the Ombudsman was marred by partiality. Corruption cases that involved President Gloria Arroyo, her family, and cabinet were purposely docked for years.

The data gathered by Kwok showed that there are 1.8 million civil servants in the Philippines and only 200 state prosecutors. This gives a ratio of 1:9000. The number of prosecutors already increased from the time Kwok was a consultant at the Office of the Ombudsman. There were only 37 prosecutors then, and their conviction rate was merely 14%. Kwok advocated for budget increase for anti-corruption agencies that would contribute in the professionalization of their staff.

Prof. Winnie Monsod and Transparency and Accountability Network Executive Director Vince Lazatin

Prof. Winnie Monsod and Transparency and Accountability Network Executive Director Vince Lazatin

Prof. Winnie Monsod, who was a reactor at the lecture, challenged the audience to take advantage of the opportunity that the Philippines has now to fight corruption. “The public is already outraged by the corruption issues that have been hounding the country for years. We have a committed leader who is perceived as clean. The combination of these equals a perfect timing for an anti-corruption campaign,” expressed Monsod.

“Ever since President Aquino declared that there will be no wangwang (VIP car sirens), people’s tolerance to it has decreased. When before it was normal to hear it, now it has become of an exception. This means that we can also quickly change the attitude towards corruption,” encouraged
Transparency and Accountability Network Executive Director Vince Lazatin, who was also at the forum as a reactor.

The lecture is part of the year-long 25th anniversary celebrations of PCGG. An exhibit entitled
Excesses, Recoveries, and Good Government kicked off the programs. Kwok’s lecture is the first in the Haydee Yorac Lecture Series organized by PCGG and supported by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty (FNF). Haidee Yorac was the 11th head of the Office of the Ombudsman and a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Public Service. “The Aquino Administration had already gone about moving the goalposts on good governance. We hope that this lecture series would encourage not only discussions, but concrete actions in the fight against corruption,” said FNF Philippines Country Director Jules Maaten.



Ombudsman needs more powers, bigger budget


By PURPLE ROMERO - May 8, 2011

Congress, judiciary should support anticorruption efforts too, says expert

President Aquino can always appoint a credible and efficient Ombudsman, but his effort will only bear fruit with the help of Congress and the judiciary, among others.

Tony Kwok, former head of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission on Anti-Corruption (ICAC), told a forum Friday that under the present set-up, the Ombudsman wouldn’t be able to do much in catching corrupt officials due to its limited powers.

“It cannot arrest, it cannot wiretap calls,” he said.

Kwok said Congress should grant the Ombudsman more powers to investigate. Republic Act no. 6770, which creates the Office of the Ombudsman, gives the anti-graft office prosecutorial and investigative powers, but the most that it could access are bank records.

Kwok said both houses of Congress should work toward passing an “anti-corruption friendly law,” which would enable the Office of the Ombusman to do the following:

a. demand for information

b. arrest and detain suspects

c. search

d. restrain property

e. order a surrender of travel documents

f. conduct surveillance and undercover operations

g. intercept phone calls...

Aside from more money and more powers, the Ombudsman also needs a stronger judiciary to make its anticorruption efforts effective. “The judiciary is highly inefficient. It takes the courts 6.6 years to conclude a case. It’s one for the Guinness of Records,” he said...

But most important perhaps is the need for the executive branch to respect the independence of the Ombudsman. Kwok lamented that the agency “is sometimes used as a political tool.”..

Kwok said President Aquino should appoint “a person with a mission,” and that this mission should include catching “the big fish.”...

But he noted improvements over the years, such as the signing of a memorandum of understanding on the Solana Covenant between the Commission on Audit, the Civil Service Commission and the Ombudsman in 2004.

The Solana covenant is a joint anticorruption plan that lists the following objectives: the establishment of a database for the statement of

assets, liabilities and net worth of public officials and the monitoring of unliquidated cash advances, among others.




"Catch big fish to end corruption" of the suggestions made by international anticorruption expert Tony Kwok in a lecture on corruption given at the University of the East...Using this strategy, Kwok, former operations chief of the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), said he was able to help oversee a significant decrease in overt corruption in the Chinese region within three years.

"When fighting corruption, we're fighting against public perception. When people believe the fight is genuine, they will start refusing to pay bribes," and start publicly reporting corruption instead of taking it as "an accepted way of life," he said.



Click here to go to the full article in Pera Natin 'to

Click here to go to original article on the Freidrich Naumann Foundation for Liberty website.

Click here to read full Inquirer article

Tony Kwok listed some of his suggestions as to how the Philippines could seriously move forward in its battle against corruption.

These include:

  • Appoint the right Ombudsman
  • Set aside 0.3 per cent of the national budget for anti corruption
  • Congress and Senate to speed up passing anti-corruption friendly laws
  • Build up the accountability system of the Ombudsman
  • Judiciary reform – a service guarantee to conclude 90 per cent of corruption cases within 12 months
  • Government agencies annual action plan
  • Resurrect Solana Covenant (where the Commission on Audit, the Civil Service Commission and the Ombudsman vow to work in true partnership).
          -  Philippine Public Transparency Reporting Project
  • TONY KWOK Manila Lecture Series and Meetings organized by iPro


    Tony Kwok former Deputy Commissioner and Head of Operations of the Independent Commission on Anti-Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong was in Manila May 4-6 for a series of 9 lectures and strategy sessions regarding future directions for the combat of corruption in the Philippines. The events, organized by USAID’s Philippine Integrity Initiative Project (iPro) administered by Management Systems International (MSI) reached approximately 1,000 participants from all sectors.


    On May 4, activities with Mr. Tony Kwok commenced with a small strategy session with the leadership of the private sector “Integrity Initiative” that is urging all businesses to sign integrity pledges meeting standards for maintaining internal controls against bribery and illegal acts. This activity is financed by the Siemens Foundation and administered by the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines (ECCP) and Makati Business Club.


    Mr. Kwok then gave a lecture for the Constitutional Integrity Group (CIG) entitled “Fighting Corruption in the Philippines – The Role of Independent Oversight Agencies”  held at the Commission on Audit (COA) – Professional Development Center (PDC).  New COA Chair Maria Gracia Pulido Tan opened the session organized by iPro along with  COA’s Central Office. It was attended by COA Officials, employees and resident auditors based at various government agencies and representatives from the two other members of the CIG, the Office of the Ombudsman and Civil Service Commission.   Other government offices and different Local Government Units in Metro Manila likewise sent delegates to this affair with around 200 in attendance.  COA Commissioner Heidi Mendoza’s response acknowledged the effort of the sponsors in conducting worthwhile activities such as this lecture series and enjoined the CIG and COA community to work together with other agencies to eliminate corruption in government.


    For the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) Mr. Kwok’s lecture on “Fighting Corruption in the Philippines – What went Wrong and What Can be Done Now?”  was part of the commission’s “Haydee Yorac Commemorative Lecture Series” celebrating its 25th anniversary.  The session was attended by about 150 high ranking government officials as well as those from past administrations, representatives from different embassies in the country, and members of the press. 


    Mr. Tony Kwok met with USAID officials on the second day of the series of activities.  The presentation and roundtable discussion was attended by the different units and offices of the USAID including some representatives from the US Embassy.  The participants responded enthusiastically and numerous questions were raised including reactions from Mr. Kwok's provocative insights into mobilizing private sector participation and active involvement in the anti-corruption initiatives of prevention, education, and enforcement.


    This was followed by another PCGG “Forum on Best Practices in Asset and recovery Management.”  A total of 74 participants joined this session composed of government officials and employees and representatives from embassies in the country and the Ateneo Human Rights Center.  The majority of the government contingent were from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) and the Office of the Special Prosecutor (OSP). A representative of the U.S. Marshall Service also made a presentation along with Mr. Kwok.


    Approximately 200 officials, faculty, staff and students of the University of the East from both their Manila and Caloocan campuses and some students from the De la Salle University eagerly attended Mr. Tony Kwok’s afternoon lecture on Fighting Corruption in the Philippines – What went Wrong and What Can be Done Now?”.  iPro’s  popular wireless interactive polling tool was used at UE for the third time at its request to whet the students’ interest in the subject matter.  The participants were grateful for the insights shared by Mr. Kwok, not only for the knowledge he shared but more importantly, for the hope that he planted in most of those present.  Despite this, some of the participants raised reservations, particularly regarding the possibility that causes, nature and level of corruption in the Philippines could make it difficult to curb corruption in the near future. Issues such as self interests of politicians; nature of elections spending in the country; cultural differences between Chinese and Filipinos; and lastly, corruption as already so systemic in the Philippines that people have become somewhat accepting of it already. As closing and in response to these concerns, Mr. Kwok reiterated his earlier thesis on the importance of political will of the leaders and using a three-pronged approach in fighting corruption – education, prevention and deterrence.


    The AIM Hills Program on Governance requested the first activity on the last day of this Tony Kwok Lecture Series.  In this session with the theme “The Fundamentals of an Effective Anti-Corruption Agency”, Mr. Tony Kwok talked about “The Critical Role of Anti-Corruption Agency in Fighting Corruption: Lessons Learned from the Hong Kong Experience.” He was joined by two other speakers, Dr. Emil Bolongaita of Asian Development Bank on the topic “A New Model for an Anti-Corruption Agency? A Look at Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission” and PCGG Chairman, Juan Andres Bautista who spoke on “The Philippine Perspective on Anti-Corruption Agencies.”   All three lectures expressed optimism in the campaign of the present Administration, which inevitably rubbed-off among the participants.  Accordingly, iPro’s  wireless interactive polling tool yielded a high percentage of participants believing that the Aquino administration will be able to jail grafters beyond personal, filial, and partisan affiliations.  This event gathered a good mix of more than 60 participants from the academe, business, foreign chambers of commerce, retired government officials and technocrats. 


    A luncheon sponsored by iPro followed for panelist, co-sponsors and dignitaries where informal discussion on the topics presented continued. 


     The events culminated in a Metro Manila Colloquium: “Beyond Combating Corruption” at Leong Hall Auditorium, Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City where Mr. Kwok again spoke on “Fighting Corruption in the Philippines - What went wrong, what can be done now.”

    After Mr. Kwok’s lecture a  new book was launched: Kakistocracy: Rule of the Unprincipled, Unethical, and Unqualified by Dr. Ronnie V. Amorado, a Filipino activist and coordinator of Ehem!, a Jesuit sponsored organization for fighting corruption in the Philippines founded in 1988 by Jesuit priest Father Albert Alejo.


    The colloquium/book launching was participated in by various sectors including  government, academe, business and non-government organizations with more than 200 attendees


    Co-sponsoring organizations of the nine events included: The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) -- Integrity Initiative -- EHEM!
    USAID & Projects:
    iPro -MSI Integrity Project – ABA Rule of Law Initiative -- LINC-EG -- AIM Hills Program on Governance -- Transparency & Accountability Network (TAN) -- Ateneo de Manila University – University of the East.








    As the chief anti-corruption agency of the Republic of the Philippines, the most important mandate of the Office of the Ombudsman is to detect, investigate, and prosecute corruption. If it is effective in its mission, the Ombudsman can make corruption a high-risk and low-reward activity. It will serve to deter corruption, pave the way for effective corruption prevention measures,  improve the business environment and investment climate, and spur development and economic growth.


    The lack of effectiveness of the Ombudsman is systemic in nature. The Ombudsman as an institution needs to be reformed together with other key institutions in the legal and judicial system.


    To this end, the Government could consider these suggestions in light of global best practices in appointing the next Ombudsman and in strengthening its anti-corruption agenda:


    1)    Appoint an Ombudsman with a strong sense of mission, proven integrity, and demonstrated expertise in criminal investigation or prosecution.


    2)    Amend the Ombudsman charter and related legislation to give teeth to the organization, as follows:


    a.    The Ombudsman could be authorized to become a full-pledged law enforcement agency with standard powers of investigation, i.e. make arrests and search, examine bank accounts, freeze assets and conduct covert surveillance and undercover operations. Some of these investigative powers should be authorized through court warrants.


    b.    An accountability system could be established to provide external and internal oversight to the Ombudsman. This could include automatic review of decisions to stop investigations and prosecutions, as well as excessive delays in responding to public complaints.



    3)    Strengthen the capacity of other investigative bodies, such as the Anti-Money Laundering Council and the Commission on Audit, to gather the necessary evidence to ensure effective prosecution.


    4)    Review the Solana Covenant, which was a memorandum of understanding signed in 2004 amongst heads of the independent accountability institutions, i.e. the Ombudsman, the Commission of Audit and the Civil Services Commission to strengthen partnership and cooperation. The Covenant could be extended to other independent accountability institutions.



    5)    Enhance the efficiency of the judicial system, as follows:


    a.    Based on some studies before, the average time span for a case in the Sandiganbayan from the start to the promulgation of decision is 6.6 years. The Government could triple the divisions in the Sandiganbayan to cut down the severe delays in adjudicating cases.



    b.    The Government could adopt a policy of continuous trials to further enhance the efficiency of the courts.


    c.    The Government could adopt a service guarantee in its judicial process



    6)    Government agencies could publish their annual anti-corruption action plans, with specific targets and measurable indicators to allow for public monitoring.



    7)    Establish a high-level tripartite Government-Business-Civil Society Council on Integrity and Development to remove regulatory obstacles that provide incentives for corruption, improve delivery of public services, and help demonstrate policy credibility.


    8)    Government could actively support the Integrity Initiative in strengthening ethical standards in business and society in the Philippines



    9)    Set aside 0.3% of government budget for anti-corruption reforms and to provide adequate funding for the above activities. The Cabinet Cluster on Anti-Corruption, Accountability, Transparency and Participatory Governance could serve as a steering committee that could advise the President on the utilization of the funds.



    10) Coordinate closely with the international community, such as the Philippine Development Forum Working Group on Governance and Anti-Corruption, to ensure continuing high-level attention and international cooperation in advancing the anti-corruption agenda and implementing various reforms.


    Mr. TONY KWOK has 35 years experience in the anti-corruption field, including 27 years of practical experience working in the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and 8 years as international anti corruption specialist, travelling to 23 countries in a total of 160 missions


    He joined the ICAC shortly after its inception in 1975, and hence had witnessed and participated in the successful battle in transforming Hong Kong from a most corrupt place to one of the cleanest city. He retired as Deputy Commissioner and Head of Operations in 2002, after having led the Commission through the smooth transition of sovereignty from a British Colony to China in 1997 despite international pessimism.


    Whilst serving in ICAC, in 1986, he led a joint ICAC/Police Task Force with 30 officers to investigate the collapse of the third largest local bank in Hong Kong, which involved corruption and fraud resulting in a loss of HK$3 billion (US$385M). This investigation was successfully concluded in 16 months, resulting in five convictions, including the three top management positions of the bank, and two persons were extradited from the United States. He was subsequently awarded a Governor Commendation for his leadership and professional ability.


    Since his retirement in 2002 he has been invited to 23 countries and 13 provinces in China to provide professional anti corruption consultancy, lectures, and to conduct anti-corruption seminars and workshops. Countries that he has accepted invitation to visit include the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Brunei, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Mongolia, Japan, South Korea, Papua New Guinea, Timor Leste, Kuwait, Mauritius, Nigeria, Georgia , Serbia, Macau and Mainland China. He has taken up a number of anti corruption projects with the UNDP, World Bank, Asian Development Bank, European Commission, JICA, DFID, British Council, AUSAID, USAID, The Asia Foundation and UNODC. He has assisted a number of countries to set up their new anti corruption agencies, including Mongolia, Cambodia, Serbia, Mauritius and Timor Leste. His major projects included being the Chief Advisor to the EU’s 3M Euro Corruption Prevention Project in the Philippines in 2005-7; ADB Lead Consultant to conduct a Country Governance Assessment in Mongolia in 2008,  appointed by ADB & OECD as anti corruption expert to conduct a review of the ADB-OECD Anti-corruption Initiative for the Asia Pacific in 2009 and in 2010 as the international anti corruption expert in the UNDP “Capacity Development for Accountable Governance” Project in Serbia.


    Amongst other appointments, he is a member of the UNODC Anti-corruption Expert Group (2006), Regional Coordinator (Asia) of the International Association of Anti Corruption Authorities; Honorary Anti Corruption Advisor to the Office of the Ombudsman of the Philippines and the Mongolian Independent Authority Against Corruption; Visiting Professor of the National Prosecutors College in PRC. He is also the Immediate Past Chairman of the Chartered Management Institute, Hong Kong Branch and the Honorary Secretary of Hong Kong Squash.


    In Hong Kong, he assisted the Hong Kong University in designing the world’s first International Postgraduate Certificate Course in Corruption Studies and he is the Adjunct Professor and Honorary Course Director. Since the first launch in 2003, 8 annual courses have been orgainized and it has attracted 222 delegates, mostly senior officials of anti corruption agencies, coming from 35 countries. He received the “Outstanding Teacher Award” from the University in 2006. In 2010, he launched a pilot course with the University called “Senior Executive Certificate Course on Institutional Integrity Management and had attracted participants from both public and business sector to attend. He is also the Course Coordinator of the Executive Certificate Program on Strategic Management of Corruption Control, a joint project of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Academy and the Asia Development Bank. He lectured as Visiting Expert annually  (2002-2008) at the International Corruption Control Training Course of the UN Asia & Far East Institute on Prevention of Crime (UNAFEI) in Japan.


    During his ICAC career and after his retirement, he is often invited to deliver speeches at prestigious international anti-corruption forums, including  the Asian Organized Crime Conference in San Francisco, USA in 1991, the 7th International Anti-Corruption Conference in Beijing in 1995, the 3rd International Financial Fraud Convention in London in 1998, the International Seminar on Prevention of Economic Crimes in Shanghai in 1999, , the 2nd Global Forum on Fighting Corruption in Hague in 2002, The LawAsia Conference in Tokyo in 2003, the United Nations Conference on Crime Prevention in Bangkok in 2005 and the United Nations Expert Workshop in Turin in 2006.


    His successful experience in fighting corruption was carried in many feature articles of international newspapers, including the International Herard Tribute, AFP, Financial Times London and the South China Morning Post. Search on “Google” can retrieve over 5,000 entries on his news reports and interviews.  He has set up his own homepage to share his experience through publication of his writings, speeches and media interviews.


    Mr. KWOK obtained a Diploma in Management Studies and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) following completion of part-time evening courses at the Hong Kong Polytechnic and City University respectively. He attended a number of residential police management courses in the UK, including the prestigious six months Senor Command Course at the Police Staff College at Bramshill. He also attended a six-week China Studies Course at the Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. He has been a member of the Chartered Institute of Management in England since 1990 and has been a Fellow of the Institute since December 1994 (FCMI). He was the chairman of the Institute’s Hong Kong Branch.


    Mr. KWOK is married with three daughters. He enjoys Taichi, scuba diving, golf, and squash. He is the Honorary Secretary of the Hong Kong Squash Association. He has published a book “365 stories to my daughters”


    In the Hong Kong National Day Honour List, Mr. KWOK was awarded the ICAC Distinguished Service Medal (IDS) by the Chief Executive in 1998 and the Silver Bauhinia Star (SBS) in 2002, in recognition of his contribution to the success of ICAC in the fight against corruption in Hong Kong.




    Eradicating the culture of corruption need not take decades  
    Tony Kwok Man-wai:

    MUCH of his life has been spent in fighting corruption. In fact, even after retiring from the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC)—the Hong Kong Corruption Eradication Commission—Professor Tony Kwok Man-wai remains very much involved in the battle against corruption. He is now a consultant in 21 countries, regularly delivering lectures on corruption, including in Indonesia.

    Professor Kwok joined the ICAC in 1975, one year after it was founded by the then British government in Hong Kong, with a mandate to  battle and prevent corruption, and carry out an anticorruption education campaign. Kwok retired when he was deputy commissioner and operations chief in 2002. That year, he was appointed Director of Corruption Studies Program at Hong Kong University, the first such academic program in the world.

    Other countries, including Indonesia, regard the ICAC as a model commission in how to eradicate corruption. Because of the ICAC, Hong Kong succeeded in changing its culture of corruption in all the layers of its society. Once riddled with corruption, Hong Kong became the 13th cleanest state in the world, way ahead of Indonesia, which never seems to go under its 100 or so ranking. "If you want to change the culture, never tolerate bribery, no matter how small," said Kwok.

    During a public lecture on August 11 in Jakarta, Kwok said the battle against corruption need not take decades. The key, he said, was in the right strategy and in the people's political will, and that there was no single solution to eradicating corruption except to have all economic and social sectors participate. The solution to corruption does not depend on just one institution.    

    Before the lecture, Kwok spoke at the Integrated Anti-Corruption Workshop in Semarang. Some of the participants were mid-level police officers and under. At the end of the session, one of them came to him and said: "Professor Kwok, I agree with everything you said, but you should be talking with my boss."  Kwok said that ultimately, eradicating corruption depended on the leader. That is why, it is important to have political will, regulations, a proper budget, certainty and independence, so that the anticorruption commission is free from any political interest.

    Right after the lecture Kwok flew back to Hong Kong. On the way to the airport, Kwok spoke to Tempo reporters Yandi M. Rofiyandi and Yophiandi Kurniawan. Excerpts of the interview:

    You seem quite convinced that eradicating corruption will not take decades.
    Hong Kong, which used to be very corrupt, only took more than three years to change the people’s culture of corruption. This is the main message. People always consider the effort of changing the culture of corruption as taking a long time, in fact, generations. Apparently, this is wrong. In three years’ time, we were able to stop the syndication of corruption. Perhaps we still have individual corruption, but for sure there was a change of culture during those three years. Here, however, what is needed is political will.
    What was the most evident change in Hong Kong?
    Corruption is no longer open. In the past, we could see clearly corruption being committed: by taxi drivers, people asking money at schools or at hospitals, and so forth. After three years, people no longer demanded bribes. That was the clearest evidence, the most significant change in the culture of corruption. People no longer tolerated corruption in their lives and they were willing to report any forms of corruption to the police.
    How do you establish an anticorruption culture in the education system?
    All countries, including Indonesia, should stress cultivating an anticorruption attitude early on, such as in schools. In Hong Kong, that is what we teach in kindergarten.

    In Indonesia, people generally think it would take an entire generation to change the culture of corruption because it has permeated all layers of society.
    People think it takes a long time to fight really bad corruption. I disagree. The Hong Kong experience shows what can happen when the right strategy and the political will in fighting corruption are applied.

    How bad was corruption in Hong Kong before the ICAC was established?
    Let’s take the example of service in one  hospital, based on an account given by my own mother. In the past, she had to bring her own drinking glass because the hospital charged her one dollar for it. She even had to pay for her towels. Everyone thought at the time that giving and taking money was normal. After the ICAC began operating, a banner with the words, “Giving and receiving money is a violation of the law because it is a bribe. For complaints, call the hotline number,” was placed over every billing counter. Such signs can change people’s attitude.

    Was anyone at the hospital ever punished for bribery?
    We arrested one hospital employee who took money, even though it was a small amount. Yet, the media criticized us: Why is the ICAC punishing people over one or two dollars? They should be after the big fish, the big corruptors. We had applied the zero tolerance policy. Big fish and small fish, if it was bribery, it was still illegal. If we want to change the culture, never tolerate bribery, no matter how small. After that one arrest, there was never any case of people asking for money in the hospital.   

    How did the people react when the ICAC finally went after the big fish?
    Of course the people appreciated it very much. The anticorruption institution must go after the big fish so that they can demonstrate seriousness, although they cannot ignore the small cases either. That’s how the culture is changed.

    Did the public ever criticize your institution?
    Every year we would carry out a public opinion survey, and it would show that 98 percent of the people supported the ICAC. The survey also indicated that 90 percent of people in Hong Kong would not tolerate corruption. To the question, “Would you be willing to report a corruption case?” about 80 percent answered “Yes.”  

    Do you think the change in culture in Hong Kong happened because of the strong influence of British culture?
    It had nothing to do with British culture but with human culture which seeks a clean culture. Corruption is global. There must be a campaign to make corruption a shameful activity. This can be done through campaign advertisements. Hong Kong had many, many anticorruption advertisements. For instance, on television, there would be a scene depicting a happy family having breakfast on their apartment balcony. An ICAC officer arrives and arrests the man in front of his wife and children. He goes to jail. The scene ends with the words: corruption destroys families.

    Do you believe the death penalty is needed to eradicate corruption, as in the case of China?
    I don’t think so. China applies the death penalty, yet corruption is still rife there. The maximum sentence given to corruptors in Hong Kong is 10 years and a minimum of 12 months, yet we have eliminated corruption. When senior officials are arrested, their reputation and their sense of integrity are lost. They bring shame to their families. And these are enough punishments in themselves.

    Should there be some kind of incentive to compensate workers, particularly low-salaried government employees, to prevent bribes?
    For low-salary government employees who find it difficult to buy milk for their babies, of course there must be an incentive not to commit corruption. That is why the government must guarantee an adequate minimum wage for its employees.
    Bribery often involves more than one person. Can it be eliminated to the very roots?

    We should punish both the givers of bribes, as well as the receivers. We cannot just investigate one person, because it is bound to involve many people. We used to investigate many people in one case, so that we can destroy the syndicate at the same time. Crime will go on if we arrest just one person. Everyone who is involved must be investigated at the same time. This is an important strategy.

    People here doubt that corruption cases linked to politics will be dealt with.  
    In Hong Kong, the investigation does not stop [when politics is involved]. We pursue it until we reach the top. Political parties have no impact on us. According to the law, we cannot stop. If we stop, the public will suspect there is something wrong going on. No one is immune from the ICAC. Anyone can be caught by the ICAC dragnet.

    The challenge of corruption eradication in Indonesia is the police and the prosecutor, which often refuse to cooperate with the KPK.
    You must start from the very top. The KPK chairman, the police chief and the attorney general must meet and try to resolve their problems jointly. They must meet officially, to identify the next steps. So, everything begins with cooperation among the leaders. This is where the president should step in: make the chiefs of related institutions to work together.

    So, the president should be involved?
    If necessary, yes. Generally, he is not needed because the leaders of the institutions should be aware of their respective tasks, so there should be no need for infighting.

    Should the KPK have its own investigators?
    The problem is how to apportion assignments.  The police cannot investigate corruption cases. If both the police and the KPK investigate simultaneously, there would be a conflict because the law is unclear about this.  The police should focus on criminal cases, like murder, kidnapping, theft and other crimes. Corruption must be managed only by the KPK. In every country, the anticorruption commission is the only institution authorized to investigate corruption cases. The police should not be allowed to be involved in corruption cases. The KPK must hold the sole mandate in anticorruption efforts. If two institutions are given the same authority, conflict is bound to happen.

    But the KPK is a temporary institution.

    This is why the KPK needs a legal umbrella. In many countries, their anticorruption institutions are embedded in their constitutions. In Hon Kong, the anticorruption institution is independent, regulated by laws. In Mongolia, the anticorruption budget cannot be rejected by parliament. So, parliament cannot reduce their functions nor their authority by cutting its budget. The KPK must be embedded in the constitution. And they must be given the guarantee to be the sole investigator of corruption cases, to ensure there is no conflict with the police. Even the Corruption Court must be embedded in the constitution.

    The recruitment of KPK officials in Indonesia must be approved by parliament. Can this reduce its independence?

    The process of recruitment is acquiring the right people for the right job. The objective is to get the best candidates to be members of an independent anticorruption commission, such as the KPK. This must not be mixed with political interests.

    So the selection process in parliament is not needed?
    There is no need for that. The public can and should monitor the selection process. If the president appoints Professor Tony Kwok, and the people support this, but parliament disapproves, there is bound to be critical reaction from the media and from public opinion.

    Some people in Indonesia, including the president, once complained that the KPK’s authority was excessive.
    This institution must have power. Otherwise, it cannot function. Of course, there must be consideration towards possible abuse of power. So, a mechanism to prevent such an abuse is necessary. In Hong Kong, we have an oversight unit that consists of people outside the institutions. They are community leaders whose task is to monitor the activities of the ICAC.  

    In fighting corruption, did the ICAC employees face physical threats or pressure?
    Many physical threats, but we are professional agents. Investigating corruption is not the business of one person, but a team. If you killed me, it would be pointless, because someone else would be picking up the investigation. What is more important in fighting corruption is a witness protection policy, because the corruptors can easily threaten weak witnesses. We even had one case in which the witness was killed. So, a good witness protection program is definitely needed. The anticorruption institution must also convince everyone concerned that all its reports must be kept secret.

    How to convince the public of the need for secrecy while supporting the whistle blower?
    We must maintain secrecy. No one must know who the whistleblower is. If someone at the ICAC leaks such information, the person goes to jail. We have strict laws with regard to maintaining the secrecy of the whistleblower.

    What if the whistleblower is part of the problem?
    Although he may be involved in the crime, his identity can only be exposed through a court order with strong evidence. If the identity cannot be kept secret, the witness should enter a witness protection program.

    There’s a film called I Corrupt All Cops, which tells the story of corruption inside the Hong Kong police force and the ICAC. Is this movie based on facts?
    Everything in the film is true. The police force was very corrupt at one time. One joke went that one policeman couldn’t find a bed to sleep in because all the rooms in his home were full of money, covering all the beds.

    Tony Kwok Man-wai

    - Masters in Law, City University, Hong Kong (2002)
    - Masters in Business Administration, City University (1994)
    - Diploma in Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic (1986)

    - Director, Corruption Studies Program, Hong Kong University (2002-to date)
    - Anticorruption Consultant in 21 countries
    - Deputy Commissioner and Operations Chief, ICAC, Hong Kong (1996-2002)
    - Director of Investigations (1993-1996)
    - Assistant Operations Director (1988-1993)
    - Principal Investigator (1983-1988)


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