SHKP 'persuaded transport officials' on Ma Wan buses

Corruption trial hears that site was to be accessible only by ferry until firm persuaded Transport Department to change its mind

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 3:26am
UPDATED : Thursday, 03 July, 2014, 9:16am

Sun Hung Kai Properties persuaded the Transport Department to allow buses as well as ferries to serve its development on Ma Wan in the 1990s, the corruption trial involving the firm's co-chairmen and a former government No 2 heard yesterday.

Defendant Rafael Hui Si-yan, who would later become chief secretary, served as commissioner for transport between 1992 and 1995, the Court of First Instance was told.

Hui is accused of receiving tens of millions of dollars in cash and other inducements from SHKP co-chairmen Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen and two others without disclosing them. Hui is alleged to have given SHKP insider information in relation to the Ma Wan and West Kowloon Cultural District projects.

Retired government engineer Kam Chan-yiu became the first current or former government official to testify on the Ma Wan development, a housing and commercial project undertaken by SHKP.

Kam, who described Hui as his "big boss" at the department, confirmed that when SHKP submitted its proposal for Ma Wan, the developer knew that ferries were to be the only mode of transport to the island.

This was revealed in a letter written by secretary for transport Haider Barma to Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, chairman of SHKP, in November 1993. Walter Kwok, elder brother of Thomas and Raymond, is not a defendant.

The court heard that, in about 1992 or 1993, SHKP proposed that road access be provided to Ma Wan via the Tsing Ma Bridge, which was being built at the time. The company wanted bus access to supplement the ferry service.

One of the department's concerns was that road traffic to Ma Wan would overload the bridge, which was built without taking into account the development.

The government agreed in 1995 not to object to SHKP's proposal for road access subject to conditions, including that the developer pay to build and maintain a pier and bus terminals. The developer also spent "hundreds of millions" on the road link to the bridge, the court heard. Some 75 per cent of journeys would be by sea, with the rest by road, the court heard.

"Did you come to this view after considering all the materials made available to you?" Edwin Choy Wai-bond, for Hui, asked.

"That resolution was an internal and collective decision made by the Transport Department," Kam told the court.

Hui, 66, faces eight counts related to bribery and misconduct in public office.

Thomas Kwok, 62, faces one charge of conspiracy to offer an advantage to Hui and two counts of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office. Raymond Kwok, 61, faces four charges, including one with Hui of furnishing false information.

SHKP executive director Thomas Chan Kui-yuen and former Hong Kong stock exchange official Francis Kwan Hung-sang each face two charges.

All plead not guilty. The trial continues.