THE message was terribly simple: The worst factory fire in history was a terrible tragedy but it was unfair to point the finger of blame at people in Hongkong. Mr Kenneth Ting Woo-shou was nervous, even defensive, but he was sticking to his guns. In the first full interview since the devastating Bangkok fire on Monday, Mr Ting insisted Kader Industrial (Hongkong), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Hongkong-listed toy maker Kader Holdings, had limited responsibility for the disaster at Kader Industrial (Thailand). It was quite straightforward, he said: Kader Industrial (HK), which owned 40 per cent of Kader Industrial (Thailand), had given management autonomy to the local partner, Charoen Pokphand Group (CP Group), one of the largest listed companies in Thailand. ''I must emphasise that all these [four] companies have an independent marketing, production, management, shipping, everything,'' said Mr Ting, managing director of Kader Industrial (HK). The companies - KCP Marketing, Kader Industrial (Thailand), KCP Packaging and Thai Chiu Fu International - are joint ventures between Kader Industrial (HK), the CP Group and Taiwanese partners. ''Sometimes we even have competition [with the joint ventures],'' Mr Ting said. ''We understand why the public'' was accusing the company of shirking responsibility for the tragedy ''because we have our name on it - that's the whole problem'', Mr Ting said. ''I have to clarify that Thai Chiu Fu and Kader Industrial (Thailand) have no trade and management relationship with us. We have no connection. We are purely an investor and a minor shareholder. ''It is an irresponsible accusation . . . All the directors and managers feel we are being unfairly victimised.'' Yet 40 per cent is a significant shareholding. Mr Ting said: ''If it was not for a joint venture with CP Group, we would not have gone to Thailand.'' The biggest lesson Kader Industrial (HK) has learned from the tragedy: ''Never lend your name or logo to any company if you don't have management control in the company.'' Kader Industrial (Thailand) has a US$13 million (HK$101.4 million) order on hand with an annual capacity of US$22 million, while Thai Chiu Fu has a US$15 million order on hand with a total capacity of US$25 million. Mr Ting said KCP Marketing was holding discussions with clients to find solutions to the current problems. ''Maybe we will help Kader Industrial (Thailand) [to settle the orders]. But we have to take care of our own customers first,'' he said. Mr Ting had earlier claimed the tragedy had no financial impact on the Hongkong partner. One rumour circulating in Thailand was that the fire was started by organised crime. Mr Ting said: ''There are too many rumours going on.'' He also denied rumours Kader Industrial (HK) had business disputes with the local partner. ''A joint venture is like a marriage. It always has disagreement.'' But he stressed the Ting family had a good relationship with the CP family. Securities Exchange of Thailand (SET) had alleged asset-switching from Thai Chiu Fu to Kader Industrial (Thailand), following complaints by Thai Chiu Fu's 568 minority shareholders. They pointed to the fact the publicly-listed Thai Chiu Fu had consistently made losses while the closely associated Kader Industrial (Thailand), which was in private hands, registered a profit. Asked to comment, Mr Ting said: ''I never heard of that.'' Kader Industrial (Thailand) had suffered a series of fires in the past, including a 1989 fire that led to a four-month closure. Kader Industrial (HK) will not send staff to Thailand to investigate the tragedy. Instead, it has appointed Kroll Associates to carry out a fact-finding mission. An initial report is expected to be completed within 10 days. Mr Ting said it was too early to say if his company would wind down its interests in Thailand. ''We don't know what really happened, who should be responsible and what we are going to do. We have to wait for the investigation,'' he said. Mr Ting did not agree the joint venture with the CP Group was a bad decision. Kader Industrial (HK) would continue to enter into joint venture projects even without management control but would never lend the firm's name, he said. ''When we quit the management team, we did not change our name . . . We have to be more careful to choose our partner in the future. ''We won't put our name to it if we don't have management control.'' In the tragedy on Monday, three factories burned down within minutes leaving more than 240 workers dead. The buildings were part of a complex of five plants that together covered an area of 500,000 square feet. The two factories still standing have ceased operations. An investigation is being conducted by the Thai Government and a report is expected to be completed by the end of the month. Kader Industrial (Thailand) has promised an ex gratia payment of six months' salary, about 20,000 baht (HK$6,000), to the relatives of the deceased and two months' salary for the injured. The Thai Government has pledged to pay between US$10,000 and US$15,000 but only after relatives identify their dead and obtain the right papers. It was reported the company, along with two affiliated firms, was insured for US$49 million. Kader Industrial (HK) jointly set up a Hongkong-registered company, known as KCP Toys, with Honbo Investment, which is associated with CP Group, in 1988. Both have equal shares. KCP Toys has four subsidiaries - KCP Marketing, Kader Industrial (Thailand), KCP Packaging and Thai Chiu Fu International - with Taiwanese partners holding 20 per cent of all four. KCP Marketing is based in Hongkong, while the other three are in Bangkok employing 4,000 workers. The total capital of the joint ventures is 325 million baht. Mr Ting said the total loss had yet to be worked out. When the joint ventures were set up, Kader Industrial (HK) participated in the management. But the Hongkong partner pulled out of the management between 1989 and 1991.