The retirement of Francis Liu Hon-por, the former director of the Marine Department, should not spare him from taking responsibility over the Lamma ferry tragedy, families of the deceased say.
The government's internal investigation on possible maladministration and negligence of duty in the department will be completed by the end of this month.
Explaining to lawmakers the latest progress of the investigation, Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung and current director of marine Michael Wong Wai-lun attended the Legislative Council's panel on economic development yesterday.
Liu, who retired in February, was not present.
Ryan T, one of the relatives of victims of the October 2012 tragedy, sent Wong a letter demanding a fair investigation into everyone, including the former chief.
"It's impossible to exempt Liu from liabilities due to his retirement," he wrote, adding the former chief should attend meetings between the government and the families involved once the investigation is completed.
In the Legco meeting, Cheung said all officers, regardless of their ranking, will be treated equally in the investigation.
However, Cheung hinted that some aspects of the report may not be made public, as public interest will have to be balanced with the protection of officers' privacy, the possible effects on criminal investigations, and civil servants' right to disciplinary hearings.
Lawmakers said that as much of the report as possible should be made available to address public concerns.
"Cheung is stepping back from his promise to reveal the report," democrat James To Kun-sun said.
"There is no reason for the government to hide information unless it is related to an imminent pending procedure taken by the police."
The collision between Hong Kong & Kowloon Ferry's Sea Smooth and Hongkong Electric's Lamma IV launch on October 1, 2012, killed 39 people, including eight children.