You put safety at risk, judge tells ‘lazy’ technician who faked reports for Hong Kong’s bridge to Zhuhai
Magistrate sentences Wong Kwok-yiu to eight months in jail for cooking up test results on concrete to cover up mistakes for Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge
A Hong Kong magistrate on Friday told a “lazy” laboratory employee convicted of faking reports for a major cross-border bridge project that he had been “wishy-washy” and risked endangering public safety.
The remarks by acting principal magistrate Ivy Chui Yee-mei came as she sentenced Wong Kwok-yiu to eight months behind bars at Tuen Mun Court.
Wong was one of 19 lab workers embroiled in a scandal involving fake test reports produced for a multibillion-dollar bridge project linking Hong Kong with neighbouring Macau and the mainland Chinese city of Zhuhai.
The tests were to ensure the concrete used to make the bridge was strong enough.
Wong pleaded guilty two weeks ago to two counts of using false instruments to produce reports between 2012 and 2015 on concrete cubes intended for the bridge.
The former lab technician cooked up the reports to cover up his mistakes, his lawyer had told the court during mitigation earlier, because he was lazy and feared he would be reprimanded by his superiors if they found out about the errors.
A report sought on the defendant and cited by the magistrate on Friday said the veteran employee did not have the courage to admit his mistake, thinking it would be “embarrassing”.
But the judge said Wong’s role in the scandal was important. She said if the cubes the 61-year-old tested could not meet standards, it could have resulted in cracks in the bridge involving serious consequences.
‘I was just lazy’ admits man accused of faking concrete test reports on Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau bridge
“You cannot be wishy-washy. Otherwise, it would affect safety,” she said.
The 55km crossing, a combination of bridges and a tunnel, has been under construction since 2011.
The court heard that in late 2012 Hong Kong’s Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) set up a laboratory to test concrete cubes, soil, rock and steel bars for the project.
The management and operation work was outsourced to a contractor, Jacobs China Limited, with whom Wong was employed. Stationed at the Public Works Regional Laboratory in Siu Ho Wan, Lantau Island, Wong was supposed to conduct compression tests on the concrete cubes to ensure they met proper standards.
Between September 1, 2012 and June 30, 2015, Wong input one measurement incorrectly and another one using the wrong cube, causing two results to be inaccurate. To cover it up, he used a high-strength concrete cube to simulate the compression tests.
The results were sent to a CEDD principal technical officer, who was led to believe they were genuine and issued accredited reports.
Some 18 others face one count of conspiracy to defraud but have not yet been required to make a plea. They will appear at Hong Kong’s District Court on December 7.