Lamma ferry disaster
A boat owned by Hongkong Electric carrying more than 100 staff workers and their family members collided with a ferry in waters off Lamma Island at about 8.20pm on October 1, 2012. More than 100 passengers on the boat fell into the water. Thirty-nine people were confirmed dead after the accident. This is the deadliest boat accident in Hong Kong in 40 years.
Relative 'stunned' at poor translation in ferry inquiry
A relative of two victims of the National Day ferry disaster have hit out at the quality of interpreting at the commission of inquiry into the tragedy - which he says could affect its outcome.
Ryan Tsui Chi-shing, the younger brother of Tsui Chi-wai and uncle of Tsui Hoi-ying, 10, who both died in the crash along with 37 others, said he was "stunned" by how poor the interpreter was when he attended the hearing on Monday.
"There is no reason why a government-appointed interpreter should perform that poorly. She should be good at both English and Chinese," he said.
Tsui said the interpreter had frequently mistranslated what the witnesses were saying. He also said she was slow and her pronunciation was poor.
Since the commission chairman, Mr Justice Michael Lunn, and most of the lawyers involved speak English, Tsui feared that they might have misunderstood some of the evidence because it had been mistranslated.
"Besides affecting our rights [to pursue claims], it means the truth behind the incident won't be completely found," he said.
Tsui said that during Monday's hearing, the interpreter had mistranslated whether the navigation light of the Lamma IV had been switched on, confusing the chairman. She was also corrected by some of the lawyers present, according to Tsui.
He was also angry about an earlier translation error he was told about, concerning his niece. On January 10, Lunn commended firefighter Wong Tsz-kiu for his "sustained efforts to save the young girl".
The interpreter said in Cantonese that Lunn had commended Wong for "resuscitating" her. A clerk beside her pointed out that the girl had died.
Tsui questioned the interpreter's qualifications and experience, urging the commission to find someone else before the key witness - the captain of the Sea Smooth - testified.
The commission secretariat said the interpreter had been appointed in an "open and competitive process" and had a master's degree from the University of Hong Kong.
She also worked as an official language officer in the government from 1983 to 2001.
A spokesperson for the secretariat noted the task was a challenging one: "Inevitably, at times the interpretation may not reflect the most suitable translation."
She would not confirm if the interpreter would be replaced and said bilingual counsel would raise any translation issues.