ICAC (Independent Commission Against Corruption) is Hong Kong’s official internal investigation bureau. Featured in this story, its chief assigns an independent team to check ICAC’s principal investigator of a major case for corruption. As revealed to the latter, it was not so much that the chief lacked trust in him, but that it was with trust in the first place, that he was put in charge. Yet, as the case was super sensitive, he had to assure the investigator to be blameless, such that no dirt might be stirred up to ruin the investigation’s integrity. The chief called this putting of power in a cage, to prevent its abuse.
It seems like sound logic, with appropriate tactical wisdom, to prevent the case’s politicisation for external causes, or corruption for personal gain. However, upon deeper thought, rises the question of how many layers of internal checking there should be. Who watches the watchmen? Who checks the checkers, and who checks checkers of the checkers… ad infinitum? What if two consecutive layers of checkers are in cahoots? Of course, practically, the checking has to stop where deemed reasonable, adequate. This does remind us of the greater yet primary practicality of each being honest in the first place, to lessen need to check one another.