Explanation angers family of woman killed by falling gate

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 May, 2009, 12:00am

The Lunar New Year holiday and the 'non-urgent nature' of the job were blamed by the government for a delay in replacing a faulty gate that fell and killed a woman this month.

The gate had already been repaired four times, in April 2004, September 2006, and January and November last year, the Development Bureau said in a summary of the incident submitted to the Legislative Council yesterday.

The report came under fire from legislators and the family of cleaner Mabel Lim Tjhung Bwee, 42, who died on May 5 at the Social Welfare Department's Hang Ngai Manufacturing and Hostel in Hung Hom on May 5. They wanted to know why the government had waited so long to replace the gate.

According to the summary, the Social Welfare Department made a written request to the Architectural Services Department on December 10 last year to have the gate replaced and a work order was also issued to the contractor who was required to complete the work by February 10.

But 'in view of the Lunar New Year and the non-urgent nature of the work items, parties concerned subsequently agreed that the work items included in the works order would be further arranged after the Lunar New Year holidays'.

Between February and May, Architectural Services Department staff continued to discuss a date with the contractor. Disturbance from the work and safety concerns further delayed the project, and the work was finally set for May 16. 'The incident now is under police investigation and a coroner's inquiry is likely; we should refrain from discussing the case in public,' the paper said.

But Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat said the information released was inadequate.

'How can the Lunar New Year holiday in February delay the work project date to May? The gate was repaired four times between 2004 and 2008, and yet the concerned department did not find the gate to be problematic back then,' he said.

The victim's daughter, Lau Miu-ling, said she was puzzled. 'If it took so long for the government to fix a date to replace the gate, then why did the department replace the gate three days after my mother died?' she asked. 'Why not wait until May 16? How come the government became so quick so suddenly? Why did the government only do something after somebody died?'