Government must play more active role in safety of venues
- The false declaration leading to the Mirror concert accident was not an isolated incident, investigations show, putting the onus on the stadium’s manager, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, to more carefully scrutinise whether show organisers are following the proper procedures
The investigations into the Mirror concert accident in July are about holding the possible culprits accountable and preventing a recurrence. Last Friday, police arrested five executives of contracting firms in connection with the mishap that saw a dancer critically injured by a falling LED screen. This was followed by the release of the causes and enhanced safety procedures recommended by a government task force. Unfortunately, there are still some unanswered questions regarding the city’s worst showbiz disaster in recent memory.
The arrests are ongoing efforts to bring those responsible to justice. The suspects from Engineering Impact Limited, the principal contractor of the concert, and subcontractor Hip Hing Loong, were arrested for fraud and allowing objects to be dropped from height. To what extent they are culpable will ultimately be a matter for the court to decide. The police are not ruling out more arrests.
The weight of the screen was earlier found to be significantly more than what was declared. Subsequent probes showed it was not an isolated case. Police believe it involves deliberate false declaration of the weight of hanging installations to speed up the issue of permits for shows. In one case, eight sets of hanging amplifiers weighing 12,240 pounds in total were declared at just 1,600 pounds. The screen in question and five others weighed 9,852 pounds in total, nearly three times the 3,600 pounds declared, according to police. Surveillance camera footage from the Hong Kong Coliseum showed those working for the contractors were apparently aware of some problems with the device in question and had sought to fix it on the day the accident happened. But the matter was not reported, nor was it followed up by certified personnel, police added.
The investigation would not be complete without critically examining the role of all stakeholders, including the venue manager, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). The government stressed it was the venue user’s responsibility to ensure safety, saying the department would give the final go-ahead for events based on the clearance by certified personnel. The response may give the impression that it is distancing itself from the incident.
Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung Yun-hung is right in saying that no investigation could undo the damage suffered by dancer Mo Li Ka-yin, who has yet to recover from a serious neck injury and remains in hospital. Yeung stressed it was an isolated incident, saying many shows had successfully been held at the venue for decades. Be that as it may, the Mirror incident has raised questions over some industry practices and the responsibility of the LCSD in vetting the safety of performances. The government must not shy away from playing a more active role.