3 rapped for roles in piling scandal

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 January, 2003, 12:00am


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Two former top housing officials and the ex-housing authority chairwoman have been criticised and held responsible by the Legco select committee investigating the 1999 short-piling scams.

Several contractors and frontline staff were arrested and jailed for their parts in the scandal.

But compared to the condemnation levelled at these frontline staff, the criticism of the three has been mildly worded because legislators believed the punishment they had suffered already was sufficient, according to a source.

'We talked about whether to use harsher words and condemnation, but decided the wording used would already be sufficient to affect their credibility,' said the source, who is a member of the select committee.

The source said the report criticised former housing authority chairwoman Rosanna Wong Yick-ming and Tony Miller, who was then director of housing, for a failure of awareness. Former secretary for housing Dominic Wong Shing-wah was also criticised for a failure in monitoring.

The scandal erupted after several Housing Authority buildings in Sha Tin, Tin Shui Wai and Tung Chung were found to have substandard piling. Some blocks were later demolished and remedial work had to be carried out at others.

A government inquiry and two similar investigations in 2000 levelled the blame at frontline staff but cleared all major officials of responsibility, which prompted an outcry in the legislature leading to the Legislative Council's own investigation.

Ms Wong resigned on the eve of a Legco motion of no confidence in her in June 2000, while Mr Miller remained in power.

The source said the committee had used strong words to condemn frontline staff, such as contractors and engineers, for their involvement in the scams. He denied that the committee had failed to hold those at the top responsible.

The full report will be published tomorrow.