Principal investigator Dale Ko has tendered his resignation at the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), after the recent surprise removal of the acting Head of Operations who was involved in an investigation involving the Chief Executive. Ko was considered a “true future star,” according to one former investigator.

The commission confirmed that Ko had requested an early termination of his contract, and it was being handled according to procedures. Ko is currently still working and has not begun his leave.

He is one of the 17 principal investigators at the commission, a high level position at the Operations Department.

Dale Ko. Photo: HKFP/Apple Daily.

Democratic Party chief executive Lam Cheuk-ting told reporters on Tuesday afternoon about the latest resignation before the commission confirmed it to be Ko.

Lam, a former investigator at the ICAC, said Ko was very young and was considered a “true future star” at the corruption watchdog, having worked in several positions where sensitive information was handled.

‘Sensitive moment’

Lam said he cannot prove there was a connection between his decision and the departure of acting Head of Operations Rebecca Li.

“I don’t have his resignation letter, so I cannot say that,” he said. “But you can see the timing is very close.”

Lam said Ko would likely have seen promotions had he stayed on the job, but he suddenly resigned at a “sensitive moment.”

Ko only decided to resign on Monday, according to Sing Tao Daily. The newspaper also reported that Ko’s work was praised by Li and two former Heads of Operations.

Rebecca Li Bo-lan. Photo: ICAC.

The resignation came after an unusual staff shake-up at the commission. Questions were raised over whether the decision to remove Li was related to investigations into the Chief Executive’s HK$50m UGL payment controversy, which she had been involved in.

At a press conference on Monday, ICAC Commissioner Simon Peh Yun-lu said that he alone made the decision to remove Li from her position, and no one else had interfered in the process. He also said that the reason Li was removed was that she did not meet the requirements of the position.

Citing sources, Lam said that Peh told high level staff members that Li only fulfilled her role as an executor, but had not met requirements in personnel management.

Lam said many employees were dissatisfied with the explanations given.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday that he was not involved in the surprise personnel changes.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.