• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 10:35am
Lamma ferry disaster
NewsHong Kong

Grieving families angry they can't see full report on Lamma ferry disaster

Families say they'll back move to invoke special powers of Legislative Council to get to the truth

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 April, 2014, 6:34am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 April, 2014, 6:34am

Grieving relatives of the 39 people killed in one of Hong Kong's deadliest maritime disasters have accused the government of dragging its feet in the quest to find out who was responsible.

Two days after the partial release of a 430-page internal probe that uncovered "suspected criminality'' and identified misconduct on the part of 17 unnamed Marine Department officials, relatives of those killed in the Lamma ferry tragedy on October 1, 2012, left a meeting with top government officials disappointed.

Relatives want to see the full report. They have been denied that amid Department of Justice concerns the information the report contains could compromise the ongoing criminal prosecution of the captains of the two ferries and possible future criminal proceedings.

After meeting Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung yesterday, the families, who have offered to sign confidentiality agreements in order to see the full report, said they would, as a last resort, back a move to invoke the Legislative Council's special powers to get to the truth.

One relative, who would only give her surname, Chan, said: "I don't want to still be unable to tell the deceased why the ship sank so quickly when I visit their grave in 10 years."

She said she accepted that she would have to wait until after the criminal investigation to see the report. But she added she could not understand why she needed to wait until the end of the disciplinary hearings.

Irene Cheng, whose son died in the tragedy, accused Cheung of failing to keep an earlier promise that the report would not be kept under wraps. "We have already missed the best time to invoke the [special powers] ordinance," she said. "We were too quiet in the beginning.''

The relatives are due to meet Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung on May 15. The families said they would not attend unless Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who represents most of them, and other legal representatives could be with them. To was excluded from the meeting on Thursday where Cheung briefed families on the summary of the report.

Cheung said Director of Public Prosecutions Keith Yeung Kar-hung would attend a Legco meeting on Monday to explain the decision to not disclose the full report.

He reiterated that the release of the full report could pose a risk to criminal investigations.

Yuen said he hoped lawmakers would consider carefully the impact of obtaining the full report through Legco's special powers because the scope of the investigation was wide.


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This article is now closed to comments

The South Korean Prime Minister has resigned because of the government's mishandling of the disaster. Our own government has sat on its hands and allowed the internal report to take 18 months to prepare. Why? The distress of the relatives continues because there is no prosecution of Marine Department officials in sight. This gives the very clear impression the government is incapable of routing out incompetence not only in this department but by analogy across the whole government but they can't see that. No sense of shame at all - just a sense of entitlement for the high pay and extravagant perks for a job poorly done.
In the end, it is all about compensation? You should be ashamed of your existence and foolish remarks.
South korean pm has resigned due to a ferry disaster and the inquiry is underway fast. Why the difference in speed of response?
Do people want an fair trial or not? There is no conspiracy to stonewall. Surely at the trial, all will be made known. What is the point of jeopardizing the trial now?
It's taken 18 months for this internal report to be finalized - far too long and so it's not difficult to understand why the relatives are so upset. The government has mishandled this by not giving this top priority. When will the trial of the captains take place? Why hasn't there been a parallel police investigation of the Department? If the police have been investigating then all they need to do is to slot in any new information from the internal report and then pass to the DOJ for a decision to prosecute. Is there no co-ordination? No wonder our government isn't respected - as all we see these days is incompetence and public hand wringing by our top officials.
I think the relatives just have to be patient. They will be able to get the full report later, but in the interest of proper and fair legal proceedings it is not more than normal that certain passages stay confidential till after proceedings. I still have a bit of confidence that HK will follow the rule of law instead of the rule of mobs.
In the end it's all about compensation and nothing else anyway.
South korean pm has resigned due to a ferry disaster and the inquiry is underway fast. Why the difference in speed of response?
Compensation only? You have a right to be cynical but please show a wee bit of respect for the deceased and for the grievances of their relatives.
The government accuses a host of officials of wrongdoing but is reluctant to disclose who they are or what they erred in. That's transparency for you. As the relative(CHAN) said 'They understand that the report can be kept under wraps whilst there is an ongoing criminal investigation but once it is concluded the report should see the light of day.
Government officials will never handle things in parallel as they want to delay things for as long as possible. It takes no Einstein to figure out the actions can be carried out simultaneously.


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