Lamma ferry crash

Results of marine bureau inquiry into Lamma ferry tragedy to be kept secret

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 November, 2013, 4:17am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 November, 2013, 4:17am

The results of an internal marine department disciplinary investigation sparked by the Lamma ferry disaster will not be made public, said families of the victims yesterday, quoting the government after a meeting with the undersecretary for transport and housing.

Any referral of evidence or information, regarding officials who are liable of dereliction of duty, to investigative bodies for criminal actions will also not be made public. The government said any disclosures could intrude on privacy and affect any possible civil service disciplinary proceedings.

Family members are unhappy with the decision. "If there's no disclosure of the [investigation] results, what [the government] has done is … in vain," said Irene Cheng, whose son Thomas Koo Man-cheung died in the accident at the age of 24.

"If the commission of inquiry [into the tragedy] is open to the public, why can't this internal probe be open to us?" Cheng asked. The internal departmental investigation - now being conducted by a six-person panel - is expected to be completed within the first quarter of next year.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who met the undersecretary for transport and housing Yau Shing-mu with the families yesterday evening, said it was unacceptable if an investigation report was not disclosed.

"The bureau only said it would 'appropriately report the results [of the investigation] if it doesn't intrude on privacy"," said To. "Families have been waiting for months for the report."

If the report was not disclosed, he added, the families would not have enough evidence for any possible civil proceedings against the government.

Last month, the families filed a police report alleging marine department officials were criminally liable for the tragedy. To said they would meet with police commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung to see if the police had begun to investigate the matter.

"We are worried that police are not able to obtain the necessary documents to start their investigation as the six-person panel is also looking into the tragedy," said To. The families will meet with the government again in two months time.

The ferry collision off Lamma Island on October 1 last year claimed 39 lives. The government ordered a commission of inquiry, which was critical of the department in an April report.