My Take

On tainted water scare, let Legco do its job

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 August, 2015, 1:08am
UPDATED : Monday, 03 August, 2015, 1:08am

Forming an investigative commission whenever a political crisis has got out of hand is now the default mode of our government. But it's a thankless job heading such commissions. Worse, you are effectively walking into a political minefield.

So it's hardly a surprise that Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor admitted at the weekend that the government was having trouble finding two people - one of them a High Court judge - to form a commission of inquiry into the city's lead-in-water contamination scare. Officials earlier gave the impression that more experts would join the inquiry, but Lam said there would be only two. Presumably that's the minimum number, and she can't even fill that. "In such a brief time, it is very difficult to find two persons with the credibility and experience to take up the positions," Lam said.

You don't say. This is a foretaste of what is to come, as our crisis-prone government finds it increasingly hard to find credible, qualified and trustworthy people to help it put out fires.

So far, water in units at four public housing estates has been found to contain excessive lead. As the November district council election nears, politicians and political parties are all trying to score points from the contamination crisis with grass-roots voters, many of whom live in public estates. That just means any official investigation would attract intense media and public attention - and likely criticism.

So far, the Water Supplies Department has set up an expert task force, while the Housing Authority has formed a committee to review procedures for monitoring water supply on its estates.

Pro-government lawmakers have voted down a pan-democratic motion to invoke the legislature's special investigative powers to look into the crisis. That is a mistake. With all sides complaining about how bad the executive-legislative relationship has become while doing their best to undermine it, here's a chance to demonstrate a little good faith.

For once, let Legco to do a proper job and form a bipartisan investigative committee to look into the matter. Even if it digs up some dirt, it's just water. The government can afford to lop off the heads of a few water and housing officials.