The mission of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) is to build a clean government and a level playing field for businesses operating in Hong Kong. Right at the forefront of their activities and spreading that message is Corinna Wong, programme coordinator (district organisations) and regional officer (Kowloon Central) for the ICAC's Community Relations Department.
She joined the ICAC after graduating with a degree in arts from the University of Hong Kong, and did so for a very good reason. "I enjoy dealing with people but, most importantly, I believe in building a clean and fair society," she says.
Her work involves the planning and implementation of promotional projects, which always go together with detailed studies of corruption-prone areas. "We provide corruption prevention education for civil servants, public bodies and private organisations," Ms Wong says. "In addition, we conduct educational workshops and produce practical guides, training videos and publications." These are backed up by regular company visits and seminars organised for specific trades and industries.
During her 16 years with the ICAC, Ms Wong has been posted to the units responsible for producing educational products and mapping out strategies for liaison with the business sector. Currently she is responsible for coordinating the education work for district organisations and getting the support of district leaders and community groups through meet-the-public sessions and exhibitions in residential areas.
You cannot simply work behind closed doors, but must reach out to the world
Recent incidents in the news may have affected the ICAC's image, but Ms Wong believes such challenges are all part of the job. "Society is changing fast and the public has higher expectations of us," she remarks. "We need to be adaptable and design our programmes to meet the needs of different sectors and the general public. Communication is therefore very important, as are a strong belief in what the ICAC is doing and a great sense of responsibility towards the community."
To combat corruption effectively, the ICAC's three main departments work in close cooperation. The operations team receives allegations of corruption and conducts investigations. The corruption prevention section examines the practices and procedures of government departments and public bodies, offering advice to reduce opportunities for corruption. And the community relations department is responsible for educating the public against the evils of corruption and enlisting support for anti-corruption work.
"We have specialist units for promoting public awareness and to send the right message via the mass media and face-to-face contact," Ms Wong explains.
Those looking to join the ICAC should have completed secondary-level education and preferably have two years' work experience. University graduates usually have an advantage and, while no particular academic disciplines are preferred, an ability to get on with people and communicate well is important. Subsequent promotions depend on performance and passing internal examinations. Ms Wong stresses that candidates should be keen to upgrade their knowledge, skills and range of experience.
"To do the job well, you cannot simply work behind closed doors, but must reach out to the world," she adds. "This job has brought me into contact with people from all walks of life and I have been able to utilise all sorts of skills. There have been many opportunities to apply my training and that has motivated me to keep learning more."
Ms Wong's dedication to the cause has been a determining factor in her career development, allowing her to receive regular promotions and recognition. "Our jobs are client-focused," she says. "I guess I am very lucky to have the personal attributes to help in this career." She adds that it is vital to be understanding, sociable, and above all, to have faith in building a fair society.
For the ICAC's 30th anniversary, Ms Wong had a chance to exercise her leadership skills and professionalism by planning and implementing a series of projects which brought her the Commissioner's Commendation award. "This is not a recognition of individual work but of the collective efforts made by the entire team," she explains. "Over the years, we have implemented large-scale projects involving close cooperation with many different parties."
As opportunities to participate in such programmes increase, the ICAC, in line with the government's general guidelines on lifelong learning, has also stepped up efforts to train staff in language and presentation skills.
Looking to the future, Ms Wong emphasises she will work hard to come up with suitable educational strategies to enhance the culture of probity in society. "I want to make a contribution," she says, "and I hope the rest of the community will come to fully accept these ideas."
The ICAC has various programmes to facilitate close cooperation with anti-corruption agencies in the mainland, particularly those in Guangdong province. Visits are regularly exchanged and there are seminars, workshops and training programmes for visiting mainland officials to enhance their understanding of the anti-graft laws in Hong Kong.
This level of cooperation has enhanced cross-border understanding and strengthened anti-corruption practices.