Relatives of the Lamma Island ferry crash victims have publicised a letter they wrote to the chief executive, slamming the Marine Department for the accident and demanding an independent probe into its failings.
The letter, dated May 8, was signed by about 25 relatives of the victims and addressed to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and the Department of Justice.
It expressed their anger over Director of Marine Francis Liu Hon-por's refusal to apologise for his department's negligence.
"[He] had no shoulder and no backbone to bear responsibilities and admit faults. I am surprised such a conscienceless man is actually a head of a government department," the letter stated.
The family members said they decided to publicise the letter yesterday because they were dissatisfied with the government's "bureaucratic reply" to the first collective action they had taken since the October 1 collision.
Leung had ordered his personal secretary to respond to the letter, reiterating the government's follow-up actions and offering the family members his condolences.
A commission of inquiry report on the National Day ferry crash had found that the Marine Department's "serious systematic failings" contributed to the tragedy which claimed 39 lives.
In response, the government had pledged an internal investigation and a comprehensive overhaul of the department.
But the letter said Liu had been responding evasively to his department's faults and did not offer an apology for the accident.
The relatives were aggrieved he was taking home as pay a hefty sum of public money each month, it said, and questioned why Liu, who had served in the department for 27 years, knew nothing of its systemic faults.
The Director of Marine had earlier said his department had learnt a lesson from the tragedy.
But the letter stated: "What had the Marine Department sacrificed for the tragedy? The negligence … cost 39 precious lives, is it a trade-off for your 'lesson'?
"We have no ability to force the Marine Department to apologise and have no power to sanction the department. We can only helplessly choose to believe Hong Kong is still a society with justice."
Instead of the government's internal probe, the family members demanded an independent investigation into the department's failings.
It wanted the money saved from halting this year's National Day fireworks to be put into a fund to help the families of the victims.
Leung did not respond to press queries on the family members' open letter yesterday morning. His office spokesman later said the government placed high importance on the inquiry report and would follow up on it.