• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 6:44am
NewsHong Kong

Lawmakers threaten special Legco probe of high-speed rail link delay

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 April, 2014, 5:27am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 April, 2014, 7:10am

Lawmakers stepped up pressure on the MTR Corporation and the government to come clean about the two-year delay to the high-speed rail link, even threatening to invoke the legislature's special powers to investigate it.

They say many questions remain unanswered on the postponement of the HK$67 billion line to Guangzhou.

The issues include whether the MTR could really blame damage to a tunnel-boring machine, given that reports of delays emerged before the heavy rains blamed for the damage.

The MTR also cited unexpected complications relating to the geology of the West Kowloon terminus site.

The Labour Party's Lee Cheuk-yan said transport minister Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung's claim to have been "totally caught by surprise" showed that the government was not keeping a close enough watch on the project.

"I don't understand why the government has done such a bad job in monitoring the construction," he said.

Lee urged the Legislative Council to invoke its Powers and Privileges Ordinance to launch an investigation if the MTR and government fail to offer satisfactory answers. He also suggested Legco hire a consultant to study MTR and government documents.

Lawmakers Wu Chi-wai, of the Democratic Party, and Gary Fan Kwok-wai, of the NeoDemocrats, also suggested invoking Legco's powers under the ordinance, which would allow it to summon officials to give evidence and order the release of government documents. Engineering sector lawmaker Lo Wai-kwok said the MTR should have done more to explain the delay after it was criticised for giving just a 30-minute press conference on the announcement.

"It's a big issue, so more time was needed for better explanation," he said.

Lo said a Legco investigation could take a long time and he would rather see the MTR and government devote more time to tackling the construction delays.

The rail link, which will connect Hong Kong to the mainland's high-speed network, attracted huge controversy even before the delay was announced.

For its distance, it is the world's most expensive railway. The loss of Tsoi Yuen Tsuen village in Yuen Long to make way for it prompted protests in 2011.


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Political environment like that of nowadays Hong Kong, it's not difficult for the lawmakers to raise hands yelling: let's PNP it. It is as easy as installing plug-and-play device. I think what legislators need to do is to advise the general public that what after PNP? What kind of possible impact will have on the MTR as a company and on Hong Kong as a society (e.g. What economic implication will be on hk) As Mr. Tian (the younger one) pointed out, if wrongdoings are found with mtr, reform measure used to be with KCRC should be considered for MTR as well. Hope that what we should focus here is not the project worthiness itself (the society had already reached consensus and conclusion and we should not waste time to debate about that (some populist lawmaker like g. Fan is proposing some counter-productive suggestion to Legco) rather, we should focus on how to get the project complete ASAP while taxpayers' money should be well spent this time and in the future.


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