Hong Kong MTR

Transport deputy Yau Shing-mu will quit too, if found at fault over rail delay

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 4:48am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 June, 2014, 8:41am

The transport chief's deputy has vowed to quit if an independent investigation into the high-speed railway's delay finds him at fault in his handling of the issue.

Transport and Housing Undersecretary Yau Shing-mu was following in the steps of his boss, transport chief Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, who earlier promised to step down if found at fault for the delay.

The opening of the HK$67 billion rail project linking Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shenzhen has been postponed by two years to 2017 because of construction and weather problems.

"I have reflected deeply on and reviewed the whole incident, including the presentation … I made at the legislature," Yau said.

"As a political appointee, I am willing to be monitored and criticised … If the independent expert group appointed by the chief executive finds that I am responsible, I am ready to shoulder [the consequences] - including resigning."

The group appointed to investigate the matter comprises three members led by Mr Justice Michael Hartmann. It plans to submit a report in November.

In an article Yau wrote that was published in Ming Pao Daily yesterday, the deputy transport minister sought to defend himself against criticism that he had misled lawmakers and the public about the railway delay.

Yau told lawmakers in November that the line would be completed by 2015 and it needed another six to nine months for commissioning and testing.

The night before the meeting, Jay Walder, CEO of the MTR Corporation, which is entrusted with the project, called Yau's boss, Cheung, about the possibility of a delay. Walder convinced Cheung that the MTR would not be able to catch up on the schedule by pressuring contractors if the news was immediately made public.

Yau said the presentations he made to the lawmakers were the result of careful, prudent discussions with his colleagues and that he had no intention of hiding any information from the media.