Lamma ferry disaster relatives told 'marine chief expressed sorrow already'
Statement condemned by man whose brother and nephew were among 39 who died in crash
The Marine Department insisted yesterday that its director had already expressed his remorse for the Lamma ferry tragedy following criticism from relatives of some of the 39 people who died.
It added that Director of Marine Francis Liu Hon-por remained saddened by the October 1 disaster - which a commission of inquiry found had been caused in part by his department's "serious systematic failings".
Yesterday's statement did little to appease Ryan Tsui Chi-shing, whose older brother Tsui Chi-wai and 10-year-old nephew Tsui Hoi-ying died in the crash.
Tsui said: "Liu should come out and apologise himself. He should also resign for the department's mistakes."
In its statement, the department said: "The Director of Marine had said he was weighed down by the disaster in the press conference on April 30."
It added: "The incident resulted in many injuries and deaths, it also revealed the inadequacies of the department's system. The director is still saddened and feels remorseful for it today."
The statement went on: "The director has said the department would learn from the lesson. He, as the department's head, is duty bound to take measures to improve the safety of local vessels in order to address public concerns."
Liu was caught by the media after the release of the statement but he refused to apologise, repeating what had been mentioned in the statement.
The department noted it had already commenced its own investigation into possible maladministration and human error, and it would act according to legal procedures if criminal offences were suspected.
But Tsui said: "The government has been ignoring our voices - this investigation should be conducted independently."
On Wednesday, 25 relatives of victims made public a letter to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying criticising Liu for his evasive responses and lack of apology.
The letter had been sent on May 8 and represented the relatives' first collective action since the sinking of the Lamma IV. They decided to go public after receiving a disappointingly "bureaucratic" response.
The government pledged an internal inquiry, but the ability of the department - where Liu has served for 27 years - to investigate itself has been questioned.