Information Note for the LegCo Panel
on Public Service Meeting on 21 September 1998

Corruption in the Civil Service


To brief Members that there is no serious problem of corruption in the civil service and to elaborate on the resolve and efforts of the Administration to promote a clean Government.

Current Situation

2. We are committed to upholding the highest level of integrity in the civil service and promoting a clean government. With the anti-corruption efforts made by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and the determination of the Administration in combating corruption and other malpractices, he number of corruption cases involving civil servants from 1995 to 1997, as shown at Annex A, has remained broadly stable. The first half of 1998 has seen an increase of 22% in corruption reports against civil servants from 608 recorded in the same period in 1997 to 743. The increase is against an overall increase by 24% in corruption reports from private sector, government departments and public bodies.

3. ICAC intelligence suggests no sign of a resurgence of corruption syndicates in the civil service. The increase in corruption reports does not imply a corresponding increase in corrupt activities. Not all corruption complaints contain sufficient evidence for further investigation. In terms of the number of pursuable cases, there is an increase of 16% in the first half of 1998 as compared to the same period in 1997. The following factors may have contributed to the higher number of reports -

  1. State of the economy. It has been suggested that the current economic downturn has drawn some civil servants into financial difficulties and therefore contributed to alleged corruptive practices;

  2. Increase in public awareness. The public has a growing sense of awareness of corruption and a higher expectation on civil servants�ethics. It has become more willing to make corruption reports to the ICAC. Moreover, publicity associated with a few high profile cases has attracted more reports.

  3. Proactive approach. The proactive effort by the ICAC to uncover corruption has yielded result. This approach involves stepping up the collection and analysis of intelligence, and enhanced liaison with government departments to encourage referrals.

Mechanism in Handling Corruption Cases of Civil Servants

4. The Administration closely cooperates with the ICAC in combating corruption and other malpractices in the civil service in the following ways -

  1. clear procedures are set out and widely promulgated for the prompt referral of allegations of corruption to the ICAC in confidence;

  2. the ICAC is empowered by law to investigate alleged or suspected offences under the ICAC Ordinance and the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance. It is also empowered by law to investigate the conduct of a civil servant which may be connected with or conducive to corrupt practices. We provide every possible assistance to the ICAC in these investigations. The results of the investigations are submitted to the ICAC Operations Review Committee (ORC) which advises on any further action considered desirable;

  3. if an investigation into the activities of a civil servant does not lead to a criminal prosecution or reveals no evidence of a criminal offence, the ICAC will, on the advice of the ORC, refer the investigation to the Administration with a recommendation for further action;

  4. it is the responsibility of the Heads of Department to make further investigation and follow-up disciplinary or other administrative action on these referral cases. The Heads of Department are required to handle these cases promptly and to report the progress of these cases on a quarterly basis to the Civil Service Bureau (CSB) and to the ICAC for the information of the ORC. The CSB is responsible for monitoring the progress and ensuring prompt and appropriate departmental action taken on the referral cases; and

  5. we take a serious view on corruption activities in the civil service. Officers convicted of corruption-related offences would normally be dismissed from the service. As for those acquitted or have their corruption charges quashed on technical grounds which do not undermine the prosecution evidence accepted by the court, consideration will be given to retiring them compulsorily in the public interest.

Preventive and Educational Measures against Corruption

5. The Administration is determined to stamp out corruption and to promote good standards of conduct in the civil service. Continued efforts on education, training and prevention are made to achieve these aims.

6. On education and training, all new recruits on appointment are briefed on corruption prevention and other good management practices. In May this year, the CSB and ICAC jointly organised a Seminar on 岞aintaining Integrity in the Civil Service�for Heads of Department and their senior directorate officers to reinforce the anti-corruption messages among senior management and to remind the need for vigilance at the senior level.

7. The CSB,in conjunction with the ICAC, organise regular talks and seminars on anti-corruption and related subjects for new recruits, staff in corruption-prone positions and officers who have supervisory accountability, to remind them of the responsibility for upholding a clean and honest civil service.

8. On prevention, the CSB regularly update rules and regulations on civil service conduct and discipline, and closely monitor their compliance. The ICAC is consulted before the Administration implement any new policies, rules and procedures relating to conflict of interest and acceptance of advantages. As a parallel effort, the Corruption Prevention Department of the ICAC regularly reach out to departments to assist them in reviewing their operational procedures and practices with a view to identifying ways to eliminate corruption opportunities. Besides, departments are advised to review their departmental procedures regularly to strengthen supervisory accountability and to avoid recurrence of commonly found misconduct cases.

Our Commitments

9. Hong Kong's civil service remains one of the cleanest in the region. Our statistics on disciplinary cases, as shown at Annex B, also do not show a sign of declining discipline in the civil service.

10. The Administration will continue its efforts in promoting integrity in the civil service. Our initiatives include the following -

  1. constantly updating and refining the existing rules and regulations to give clear guidance to managers and staff on the standards and values required of the civil service;

  2. production of a handy guide book on good behaviour with emphasis on avoidance of conflict of interest and maintaining high standards of probity for distribution to all civil servants;

  3. strengthening the educational and training programmes for new recruits to promote greater understanding and awareness of the standards of conduct and performance expected of civil servants; and

  4. setting up a dedicated task force to assist departments to review and draw up supplementary guidelines on avoidance of conflicts of interests tailor-made to suit operational situations.

Annex A

Corruption Reports Against Civil Servants
(1995 to June 1998)






Jan-Jun 1998

No. of corruption complaints against civil servants

1 248

1 304

1 288



No. of pursuable complaints against civil servants






Completed prosecutions against civil servants during the year (as indicated by number of civil servants)#





No. of civil servants convicted of corruption-related offences during the year#





* Figures for Jan to Jun 97. # The number includes cases brought forward from previous years.

Annex B

Statistics on Disciplinary Cases in the Civil Service
(1994/95 to June 1998)


Informal disciplinary action

Formal disciplinary action



Compulsory retirement







1 370






1 576






1 377






1 390

Apr-Jun 98






Note :

  1. Informal disciplinary action for minor offences -
    verbal and written warnings

  2. Formal disciplinary action -
    reprimand, severe reprimand, financial penalty,
    reduction in rank, compulsory retirement and dismissal