• Wed
  • Sep 17, 2014
  • Updated: 7:23pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 August, 2014, 4:35am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 August, 2014, 10:22am

Hong Kong's MTR shows bad crisis management over stray dog

The unfortunate MTR stray dog incident has become a full-blown crisis.

Assuming that staff on the ground did not do their job humanely, protesters used the full might of social media and street protests to demonise MTR staff and management.

Memorials and an online petition attracting tens of thousands of signatures condemned the MTR for not stopping the cross-border train which killed the animal. OK, that's going a bit overboard but their criticism is not without reason.

Not every problem and situation staff face can be covered by bureaucratic guidelines. Intelligent and well-trained MTR staff on the ground sometimes need to take the initiative to handle a situation satisfactorily.

The outcry forced senior managers such as MTR operations director Dr Jacob Kam Chak-pui to make a public apology. This in turn draws another round of complaints from MTR staff unions, whose leaders say managers essentially throw them to the wolves when they should have expressed support to boost staff morale.

They say if staff were not given guidelines, they could not be faulted. Really? The fault must lie with management which has failed to provide them when such incidents have happened before.

And so the blame game continues.

But could it all have been handled differently? The dilemma staff faced that day was a conflict between keeping the trains running smoothly and on time, and causing a delay, perhaps for hours, to try to save a stray dog.

Because of repeated train delays in recent months, the rail operator has been under enormous pressure. Some passengers and critics say it's more important to keep operations running; others say a life, even if it's just that of a stray, is worth going out of the way to save.

I am with the latter group. If nothing else, MTR staff could always take the moral high ground if passengers complain that a rescue resulted in serious delays. That was what operators did in New York a year ago when they stopped trains for hours to save a couple of kittens.

Well, at least MTR staff will now have specific guidelines on how to handle strays.

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This article is now closed to comments

sipsip1238
The lack of ability to make a judgement and having to take responsibility is something that is often lacking in Government departments or Government owned entities. At the core of it, a lot of the staff are there because of the stable income and the lack of responsibility that their role requires.
The fact that they now release guidelines to manage a situation like this in the future shows that the person in charge of the incident at the time lacked the ability to make a judgement for themselves, but instead required clearly written procedures so that if a mistake happens, they can then blame the guidelines instead of of taking up responsibility.
The bloke in charge most likely did think to save the dog than get it killed, but the final decision would've been based on an assessement of how much more trouble he would be in rather than saving a life.
You can only hope that the guideline now includes just a generic "animal" instead of just "canine" so that next time if it was a cat, the staff won't be like stunned deers looking at an oncoming car.
Byebye
Alex, it was not a crisis but now it becomes one crisis because of mismanagement of the whole incident!
asiaseen
Dear heaven, there is a serious lack of a sense of proportion and excess of stupidity in HK over this. What about all the wildlife, birds and so on, that gets killed on a daily basis not only on the MTR lines but also on the roads. Had this dog not been in a station, no one would have been any wiser, except the track inspectors.
mercedes2233
Tomonday says you are to get a life and give it a rest. I don't know though why he is still reading these comments and not giving it a rest himself. The hundreds of people who spontaneously gathered to lament the dog's passing obviously don't agree with you.
The New York subway stopped two lines for two hours to rescue two little kittens. Maybe you would call that 'serious lack of a sense of proportion and excess of stupidity' too. Fortunately life goes on, we still believe what we believe in, and nobody has to care, or stop their grieving, because of your views.
mercedes2233

If there is no criticism, there will be no defence.
ngsw
The wisest man is the man who criticizes after the event.
tomonday
you are just like those idiots protesters, get on with life, let it rest already
mercedes2233
I take it that you are getting on with life as you proposed. Why then are you still reading and directing us? Go back into the sunshine and play your violins. It might even make you a likeable person.
mercedes2233
Will people please watch this video first before making a comment ?
****youtu.be/C24DoFHuaUI
Now tell me whether or not the dog could/should have been saved, and why it was not.
Does one need guidelines to hold a dog between two full-grown males and haul it up, when it was already trying to get up? Why stop a passenger from saving it when that was almost done? Would staff need guidelines if a human was on the tracks? Are they dim-witted or what? And one staff member was reported to have said 'It's only a dog.'
New York subway stopped two lines for two hours to rescue two tiny kittens, but of course we are not New York.
Why detractors want to link this with us eating meat, I don't know. This is a case of injustice to the poor dog, a fellow living creature, by very stupid staff, and I am glad that so many HK people protested for 'only a dog', when it could no longer speak for itself.
53fbff02-aa0c-440f-9c1d-08e90a3209ca
just to think about if it was a human being, would you be still considering not acceptable of any delay. It started because of a stray dog, deep down it was about the ignorance of safety due to public pressure or even the fine involved.

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