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Ex-Hong Kong graftbuster takes on 'corrupt'
Philippines Posted 07:38pm (Mla time) May 17, 2005
Agence France-Presse
Hong Kong's former graft-buster Tony Kwok said
Tuesday he had begun a European-funded project to fight corruption in 16 key government offices in the Philippines, promising dramatic results in 20 months. Named as President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's chief adviser on anti-corruption earlier this year, Kwok said he believed the president was sincere in changing the country's reputation as one of the most corrupt places to do business in Asia. "Corruption can be eradicated," the retired Hong Kong official said, citing the experience of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in the territory, which he described as "probably one of the most corrupt places on earth" in the 1960s. However, he said that realistically, "it's not possible for me to carry out a comprehensive corruption prevention project covering the entire government" with the three million-euro (3.7 million-dollar) grant provided by the European Union. He said he would concentrate on "public procurement, public works, and revenue collection," reviewing "systems and procedures" that lead to graft, educating government workers and the public, and prescribing solutions. By February 14, 2007, Kwok vowed that the Philippines would have a "genuine level playing field for government procurement and public works contracts" and a good, low cost air cargo handling system at the new airport." He said he was also optimistic that within this time frame the Philippines, which toppled then president Joseph Estrada amid a corruption scandal in 2001, would give foreign investors a fair shake and build a "strong coalition against corruption."

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