Lamma ferry crash

'Trust in transport chief was misplaced'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 April, 2014, 6:05am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 April, 2014, 6:05am

Families whose loved ones were among the 39 passengers who died in the ferry collision said they were disillusioned by transport minister Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung following the decision not to reveal parts of the Marine Department's internal report into the tragedy.

"I trusted Mr Cheung to give us a satisfactory answer … and I felt that he was serious in following up our demands," said Irene Cheng, who lost her 24-year-old son in the 2012 accident. "But in the end, the person I trusted has disappointed me," she said on RTHK's City Forum programme yesterday.

The details of the report that have been released, Cheng said, add nothing new to last year's report into the accident by the commission of inquiry headed by Mr Justice Michael Lunn, which found there had been serious failings by the department.

The families said on Saturday that they would support a bid to invoke Legislative Council powers to obtain the full report.

The drawn-out police investigation has also disappointed Cheng, and she said the families had been given no update on progress since October.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who has been assisting the families, said that meetings were held with the police once every three months but even then families were never given updates on the ongoing investigation. "The assistant commissioner at the last meeting would not even give general information, such as the number of witnesses they've seen and how many statements have been taken," To said.

Police would only say that such information was classified as confidential and refuse to elaborate further on why that was the case, he said, adding that he had never experienced this level of unhelpfulness from the force in his career as a lawmaker over the past two decades.

Pro-establishment lawmaker Paul Tse Wai-chun slammed the government for failing to maintain a good balance between the public's right to know and the confidentiality needed for criminal investigations in this case.

Associate publisher of AM730 tabloid Fung Chun-chiu told City Forum that the incident had now become a confrontation between the bureaucrats and the public.

"The fact that the South Korean prime minister resigned this morning illustrates how different our city is from elsewhere," Fung said, in reference to Chung Hong-won's decision to take responsibility for the slow response to the sinking of a ferry on April 16 in South Korea which left 302 people dead or missing.