Hong Kong’s MTR Corporation sets up investigation panel to probe firebomb attack

Tearful chairman Frederick Ma says group is launching fund-raising campaign to help the victims and will donate HK$2 million

PUBLISHED : Monday, 13 February, 2017, 9:17pm
UPDATED : Monday, 13 February, 2017, 11:33pm

The MTR Corporation will set up an investigation panel to probe the firebomb attack inside a train at Tsim Sha Tsui station and suggest follow-up action, MTR chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang announced on Monday in a tearful media appearance.

The eight-member panel, chaired by operations director Adi Lau Tin-shing and engineering director Peter Ewen, is expected to produce a preliminary report within a month for the government and the MTR management board.

Man charged with arson after Hong Kong MTR attack leaves 19 commuters injured

“The preliminary report will recommend follow-up action in a holistic review of the incident,” Ma told reporters after conducting a check at the Tsim Sha Tsui station where the attack took place last Friday.

“Thereafter the panel will compile a detailed report which will be completed very soon. It will also seek the advice of overseas and local experts,” he said.

Ma, however, said that at the moment they would not introduce any additional measures, such as security checks on passengers, because it was a single incident which may not warrant such an inconvenient arrangement.

Ma also announced that the MTR Corp would join hands with the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals in launching a fund-raising campaign for the victims.

“The MTR and its staff will donate HK$2 million in support of the injured victims. This is a small sum but I hope this is a good start for raising public awareness. I wish them a speedy recovery,” he said as he sobbed.

Francis Li Shing-kee, the MTR’s chief of operations, said the investigation into the attack, which injured at least 19 people, would take two months.

Half of MTR trains, including the one in Friday’s incident, are not fitted with CCTV. Li said the investigation panel would review whether cameras should be installed on older models as well as examining fire safety issues.

More than 80 per cent of trains will have CCTV after a new batch is introduced next year.

Lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun had said MTR staff had not been able to react quickly to the emergency due to a lack of surveillance on the train. But Ma countered that all 100 staff involved acted professionally.

“If not for the train driver’s calm and prompt response in evacuating several thousand passengers within a few minutes, there would have been more casualties,” he said.

Train driver Chan Wing-keung said there was no need to install CCTV cameras in every train.

“When the emergency button was pressed, I already knew where the incident happened. All I needed to do was inform the operations control centre and drive to the next station to evacuate the commuters,” he said.

Meanwhile, 60-year-old Cheung Kam-fai, charged with one count of arson with intent over the attack, was absent from his first court hearing as he remains in hospital.

Kowloon City Court adjourned the case for three days.

Additional reporting by Elizabeth Cheung