Lamma ferry crash

Marine Police should re-examine the job they do

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 October, 2012, 12:48am

First, my thoughts go out to each and everyone who died or was injured in the ferry accident on Monday.

It is important to hold those at fault accountable, but is it only those who were on board the vessels who contributed?

I hold a Class 1 pleasure vessel licence and have done a lot of boating in Hong Kong.

On a regular basis, when I go out in my small boat, the Marine Police stop me and check my licence. Getting tired of this, I asked them why they keep stopping me. Their answer was: "Look around you. Not many boats in this part of Hong Kong. We have to stop someone."

Conversely, I was south of Peng Chau last week when I conflicted with a First Ferry travelling at high speed towards Hong Kong Island. Under the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea published by the International Maritime Organisation, I clearly had the right of way. A small course change from the ferry was all that was needed. However, there was no course change and no intention of giving way to a smaller vessel. I had to stop. This blatant disregard for the rules is endemic in Hong Kong and should not be accepted. The fact is, though, that when this incident happened, the Marine Police were just 400 metres away in their high-speed patrol vessel. They chose to do nothing, and this is not an unusual occurrence.

The causes in this tragedy are more complex than just arresting and charging the crews of the vessels involved. The police commissioner should ask himself whether his force, and as their representative, he, should take some responsibility. Better still, make some changes and have the Marine Police start really doing something about the many dangerous activities on our waters before more accidents occur.

This accident was, sadly, not a surprise. The real surprise was that it didn't happen sooner.

Jules Tidmarsh, Discovery Bay