Tung Chee-hwa yesterday rejected calls to order an Audit Commission investigation into whether the KCRC had abused public funds in relation to the West Rail project. The Chief Executive said he was not willing to step in 'at this stage' after the Democrats said they would push for the independent watchdog to investigate the matter. The Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation's new chairman, Michael Tien Puk-sun, has asked accountants KPMG Peat Marwick to investigate $1.53 billion in extra payments to contractors on the West Rail project. The payments, relating to 19 contracts, include $100 million paid to Siemens, despite the communications company's failure to meet contract requirements. Mr Tung said: 'We are highly concerned with the KCRC incident, as well as the efficiency of public bodies. 'The KCRC board has done what it should. At this stage, the board should be given time to do the investigation. This is the responsibility of the board. We will closely monitor the outcome and follow up,' he said during yesterday's question-and-answer session with Election Committee members. But he urged the public not to jump to conclusions. Under its terms of reference, the commission has the power to investigate the accounts of any government department, but it can only investigate a statutory body when ordered to do so by the Chief Executive. Mr Tung was responding to a call from Chow Kwong-fai of the committee's accounting sector to appoint the Audit Commission. Referring to the decision to appoint KPMG Peak Marwick, Mr Chow said: 'I believe there is a possible conflict of interest. The cost has not been disclosed either. The Chief Executive has statutory power to appoint the Audit Commission for any investigation'. Legislators are to question officials on the huge payout at a special meeting on Monday. Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan said his party would also ask the Government to request an Audit Commission inquiry as it would be an independent investigation. But non-affiliated Eric Li Ka-cheung, chairman of Legco's Public Accounts Committee, said although an investigation would be a good option it should be left to a private firm. Mr Li argued that the independence of the probe might also be questioned if it was conducted by the Audit Commission because it was a government department. Lau Ping-cheung, a legislator representing the architectural, surveying and planning functional constituency, said he would like to know whether the additional $1.53 billion awarded by the KCRC was similar to the Siemens case. Citing that case, he criticised the KCRC's poor drafting of contracts and its failure to penalise the contractor even after it failed to meet the schedule and standards laid down.