Lamma ferry crash

Families of Lamma ferry disaster victims blast 'bureaucratic' chief executive

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 May, 2013, 7:20pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 May, 2013, 11:20pm

Families of the victims in last October’s Lamma ferry tragedy made public a letter criticising Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and other officials for not taking their concerns seriously.

The families said they did so because Leung had been “bureaucratic” in his reply to questions over government responsibility in the accident that killed 39 people on National Day.

They had written to Leung and his justice minister Rimsky Yuen on May 8 asking them to give a “sincere, responsible and just” answer to calls for further action on the fatal accident.

The families said they wrote that letter because they found transport secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung and Director of Marine Francis Liu Hon-por were “evasive” when discussing an inquiry report on the accident during a press conference.

A commission of inquiry set up to investigate the disaster concluded in its report late last month that “serious systemic failings” in the Marine Department contributed to the tragedy.

In the letter to Leung and Yuen, the families slammed the Marine Department for being unprofessional and failing in their duty to ensure the safety of passengers and crews at sea.

They called for the government to take further action, including setting up an independent committee to further investigate the Marine Department errors and creating a fund to help the victims’ families.

In a reply from the Chief Executive’s Office, dated May 14, it said a task force had been set up to oversee reform to the Marine Department in light of the ferry accident.

It also said the government had ordered the director of marine to launch an internal inquiry in due process.

The families on Wednesday said they were dissatisfied with the government reply and therefore decided to make the correspondence public in order to pressure the government to take further action.

“Their reply was basically … what we already know from the news. It is such a bureaucratic reply,” they said.

“We can’t do anything else except making the letters public,” the families said. “We hope this will make Mr Leung Chun-ying and the justice secretary truly and sincerely deal with the matter.”

Thirty-nine passengers died when the Hongkong Electric vessel Lamma IV, taking workers and their families to see the National Day fireworks in Victoria Harbour, collided with the ferry Sea Smooth off Lamma Island on the evening of October 1.