Anson Chan

Surprise over possibility of later opening

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 November, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 November, 1998, 12:00am


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A senior airport manager said he was surprised to hear Anson Chan Fang On-sang saying the opening of Chek Lap Kok could have been postponed.

Airport Authority terminal operations manager Ng Ki-sing also admitted facilities were 'unacceptable' for operations on July 6 and he was partly responsible.

Mr Ng told the Legco inquiry he was surprised by Mrs Chan's statement that the date 'could be reconsidered should there be the slightest indication that things were not practicable'.

'I'm really surprised that the date could be changed. We thought the date was not up for bargaining and we had to meet the requirement by hook or by crook,' he said.

He said he felt the standards of various systems were unacceptable and the authority was aware of the problems. 'We didn't expect the worst scenario would be that bad,' he said.

The inquiry heard that the Airport Development Steering Committee led by Mrs Chan had been told 80 per cent of the telephones had been installed in June but the functioning rate was as low as 30 per cent in some areas. Negligent airline staff and insufficient manpower also caused the baggage handling system crash, he said.

Additional manpower to clear the backlog was only brought in the following day because chief executive Hank Townsend, former director of Aviation Richard Siegel and other senior staff had refused to relax rules on issuing security permits.

Legislators were told the problem of inadequate signage could have been due to the design company, whose original idea was to use as few signs as possible.

'They thought passengers could easily find their way if the design of the terminal building was good,' Mr Ng said.