In the 2018 Annual Report of the Commission Against Corruption of Macao, the CCAC revealed eight cases related to administrative impropriety. One of them involved the Macau Productivity and Technology Transfer Centre (CPTTM), pointing out that there were irregularities and a lack of transparency concerning the recruitment and promotion of workers in addition to the employment of a too high ratio of related employees, which would inevitably give rise to public doubts about nepotism. The Annual Report mentioned that up to April 2017, 16 workers were related among the 101 workers of the CPTTM.
Subsequently, the media published an article considering that there were discrepancies between the reality and what the CCAC mentioned and the public imagined. It seemed that the CCAC and the public only cared about the total number without taking account into the hows and whys, the reality and the changing of the situations. The article indicated the details of how the workers related to those in service joined the CPTTM. It asserted that the simple statement that there were 15% of the workers of the centre related to each other was not comprehensive enough and thus suspected that it was an overgeneralisation.
In 13th April, Director General of the CPTTM, Shuen Ka Hung, said in a media interview that the centre had already reviewed the files of its workers dated from 1996, including that of those who had resigned and those who were still working with the CPTTM, discovering that 14 workers were related. However, the centre could not identify if they were among the 16 workers mentioned in the Annual Report of the CCAC. At the same time, Shuen added that following an initial examination of the 14 workers’ files, no offence related to the employment was found. In other words, their relatives did not get involved in the relevant recruitment processes.
In order to ensure the accuracy and justice of the result of the investigation, the Commissioner Against Corruption issued an order to carry out an supplementary investigation into the case of the CPTTM. Through analysing the documents requested from the CPTTM and recording testimonies from the Director General and other workers, the CCAC has completed the supplementary investigation recently.
Number of related workers at CPTTM
The conclusion that there were 16 workers related to each other as mentioned in the Annual Report was made following the verification of identification based on the list of workers up to April 2017 provided by the CPTTM.
In the supplementary investigation, the CPTTM, at the CCAC’s request, carried out an internal inspection and found that there were 18 related workers. Compared with the list of workers it provided in the previous investigation, the CCAC discovered that up to April 2017, there were a total of 21 CPTTM workers related to each other, of which six had already resigned and there were 15 serving workers that were related.
The employment of related staff by CPTTM
In the article published by the media, there were explanations for the employment of staff with father-daughter, father-son, husband-wife relationships by the CPTTM, aiming to suggest that there were not any problems in the relevant employment. It is necessary to clarify that, due to a lack of complete information, the CCAC did not come to a conclusion in the previous investigation that the employment of the related staff definitely contravened the regulations.
The CCAC mentioned in the Annual Report that “The CPTTM failed to provide the CCAC with the documents of employment of some of the workers and even the proposals and orders about the employment.” Take, for instance, the employment of a husband and his wife mentioned in the media article for which the CPTTM was unable to provide any information relevant to the couple’s employment. Due to a lack of objective information as proof, it was hardly possible for the CCAC to draw a conclusion about whether or not the relevant family relationships would influence the employment.
According to the Director General of the CPTTM, as there was not any document proving the violation of the regulations by the relevant persons during the internal investigation, they assumed that “the family members did not participate in the recruitment process” and “there was no violation of regulations when it comes to staff employment”. Given a lack of complete recruitment information, the CCAC believed that the CPTTM’s conclusion that “there was no violation of regulations due to a lack of proof” was too hasty. Moreover, during the supplementary investigation, there were documents showing that an employee did participate in the recruitment process related to a member of his family.
It is noteworthy that while some staff members in the department are related, it does not necessarily mean that there are irregularities in the employment such as nepotism. However, as there had been problems in the CPTTM in the past, such as not publicising recruitment information, the existence of a certain degree of arbitrariness in its screening process and a too large ratio of related employees, even though there have been no irregularities in the employment of the relevant persons, it will easily arouse doubts among the public and result in complaints by the staff. As a matter of facts, the CCAC found during the investigation that the complaint about a CPTTM leader’s violation of the recusal system in the promotion of his family member was substantiated.
Shuen Ka Hung said in a media interview that since he took up the post as Director General of the CPTTM in 2012, he has enhanced the management of the relevant issues by publicising its recruitment through websites or newspapers. However, according to the information provided by the CPTTM to the CCAC, between 2012 and 2018, among the 100 occasions of recruiting full-time employees and 26 occasions of recruiting part-time employees, five and 11 were not publicized respectively.
Enhancing supervision and improving rules and regulations
During the supplementary investigation, the Director General Shuen Ka Hung told the CCAC that the CPTTM is a private organisation and therefore they would decide if the relevant employment contravened the regulations based on the Labour Relations Law. In the CCAC’s opinion, as an administrative public utility person mainly funded by the government, the person in charge is a manager rather than an owner of the public money. The Labour Relations Law should not be the only criteria for staff recruitment and promotion issues. Fundamental principles such as openness, fairness, impartiality and recusal must also be observed.
The CCAC believes that when the legal regimes for recruitment and promotion in the public service are being continuously improved, the supervision on administrative public utility persons and public funded corporations established by the government or mainly funded by the government should also be enhanced. In particular, rules and regulations should be laid down to ensure that personnel recruitment and promotion are open, fair and impartial and public money are used lawfully and properly, which is in line with the social expectations.