Govt to sustain its graft-fighting role

May 22, 2024

Chief Executive John Lee

It is a great pleasure to be here today to open this eighth ICAC Symposium, and to welcome each and every one of you - more than 500 high-profile professionals from 60 jurisdictions from six continents. You are anti-corruption law enforcers and experts, judges, prosecutors, legal practitioners, government regulators and officials, academics and more.


You are here, over these next three days, to hear and consider promising ways forward under the theme of "Charting a New Path to Combat Corruption". You are here, as well, for the 11th Annual Conference of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities.


Despite your wide-ranging backgrounds, your goal is shared: how best to prevent and combat corruption, a problem that impedes the development, stability and well-being of societies and peoples around the world.


This symposium is co-hosted by Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption, the ICAC, and the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities.


As you all know, our ICAC is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. For half a century, the ICAC has championed the fight against corruption in Hong Kong. It has also worked closely with its counterparts around the world to tackle corruption. Indeed, the ICAC currently holds the presidency of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities. 


Under the unique "one country, two systems" principle, Hong Kong maintains a robust regulatory regime in line with international standards, and is renowned globally for its clean and efficient government, level-playing field for doing business, sound rule of law, a judiciary with independent judicial power, and zero tolerance for corruption. We are also at the forefront of the international fight against corruption.


International surveys consistently confirm Hong Kong's success in tackling corruption. The World Justice Project rated us ninth, overall, in "absence of corruption", out of more than 140 jurisdictions in 2023. Similarly, Hong Kong was ranked 14th out of 180 countries and territories in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index last year. These and other standings underscore Hong Kong's clean governance, as well as the ICAC's laudable anti-corruption efforts. 


The people of Hong Kong substantiate these findings. The latest ICAC Annual Survey shows that Hong Kong citizens have a zero tolerance for corruption, with 98% of survey respondents indicating that they had not personally encountered corruption in the past 12 months.


It is a priority of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government to sustain our pioneering role in combatting corruption. We are pleased, and proud, to back the ICAC in widening its international network and co-operating with overseas counterparts.


We are committed, as well, to ensuring that our legal framework and anti-corruption institutions, as well as public and private sector governance, reflect the highest international obligations and standards, particularly those set out in the United Nations Convention against Corruption.


China, our country, has designated the ICAC as an authority under the convention, helping other economies under the convention develop and implement preventive measures. And the ICAC, in its work as president of the International Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities since 2022, has overseen the association's membership soar from 120 agencies in different countries and regions to more than 170 now. This phenomenal growth has allowed the association to extend its work internationally.


In just a moment, the ICAC will conclude the Memorandum of Understanding with the United Nations (UN) Office on Drugs & Crime and the anti-corruption authorities of Kazakhstan, Mauritius, Saudi Arabia and South Africa. 


The presence of the UN Office on Drugs & Crime, as guardian of the convention, and the national anti-corruption authorities of various countries here in Hong Kong to finalise bilateral agreements with the ICAC, exemplify the international co-operation and exchange that can make a difference, regionally and globally.


I congratulate the signatories on their impressive progress, and I look forward to more anti-graft partnerships between Hong Kong and other international jurisdictions.


Ladies and gentlemen, corruption knows no boundaries. It is a plague on different economies, institutions and communities. It has a disrupting, and dispiriting, impact on every aspect of people's lives. Everyone here is fully aware of that overwhelming reality, because everyone here is working, hard, smart and relentlessly, to overcome it.


In marking International Anti-Corruption Day, last December, the UN reiterated that "only through co-operation and the involvement of each and every person and institution, can we overcome the negative impact of this crime."


And it is why this symposium was initiated, 24 years ago: to bring economies, governments, institutions and businesses together, imbued with the indomitable spirit that we will - that we must - prevail.


​Your participation in this symposium speaks of our collective determination.


Chief Executive John Lee gave these remarks at the 8th ICAC Symposium on May 22.

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