Hong Kong MTR

Inquiry to look at role of top MTR management in rail link fiasco

Head of independent committee does not rule out interviewing chief executive Jay Walder

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 May, 2014, 11:46pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 May, 2014, 2:27am

The independent committee set up by the MTR to investigate the fiasco over the corporation's delay in finishing a high-speed railway insists it will probe the role of "top management".

Former government minister Frederick Ma Si-hang, who is heading the inquiry into how the MTR management handled the saga, said the committee would not rule out interviewing chief executive Jay Walder.

Speaking after the first meeting of the six-member committee, Ma said projects director Chew Tai-chong, whose early retirement was brought about by the scandal, had already been spoken to. Ma said the committee would also visit construction sites during the next two months ahead of completing a preliminary report. When asked if the team would investigate Walder's role, Ma said the scope included the "top management team".

Meanwhile, there is a greater chance the Legislative Council will next month pass a motion to invoke its special powers to investigate the two-year delay in completing the link between Hong Kong and Guangzhou. The government-friendly Liberal Party said it would probably support an attempt to invoke the Legco Powers and Privileges Ordinance to set up a select committee to probe the delay if the government did not set up an independent commission headed by a former judge.

Liberal leader James Tien Pei-chun said the decision would hinge on whether Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying took the party's advice to appoint a commission of inquiry to sort out who should be held accountable.

"A commission of inquiry, appointed by the chief executive, is the only way out. It can be headed by a retired judge, with the aim of sorting out the responsibility of each of the parties involved," said Tien. "If there is no concrete reply from the government it is very likely we will support the vote for a Legco probe next month."

As well as Tien, who is directly elected, the Liberals have four legislators representing functional constituencies. If they vote for a probe, the motion would stand a higher chance of passage as its biggest hurdle is the likelihood of defeat by lawmakers for functional constituencies.

Yesterday talk of a special probe was dropped from the agenda of Legco's house committee, which voted 31-29, with one abstention, to veto a bid by pan-democrats Wu Chi-wai and Gary Fan Kwok-wai to put such a motion on the agenda.