My Take

Three years after the Lamma ferry tragedy, we're none the wiser about who should be held responsible

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 September, 2015, 2:36am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 September, 2015, 2:36am

As they say, it's not the deed itself but the cover-up that makes for the worst scandal. And so it is with the Lamma ferry crash. The government's handling of the city's worst maritime disaster has been a disgrace.

Three years on, we still don't know exactly who and which companies and entities were responsible and in what ways. Instead, they have managed to jail the two captains, who were surely culpable but clearly not the only ones, and put on trial two other Marine Department officers.

What are the full responsibilities and liabilities of the department, and of the two companies that owned the ferries - the Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry and the old Hongkong Electric? We have, as usual, gone after the small fry while letting the big bosses off the hook. We are talking about 39 dead here, many of them children.

The fullest report into what happened is an investigative report by a Transport and Housing Bureau task force. Yet, most of the contents have been redacted, including the names of 17 Marine Department officials implicated for misconduct. The victims' families have every right to demand the full report, on the basis of which they will be able to seek proper legal redress.

Contrast our government's response with that of the South Korean government in the aftermath of the sinking of the MV Sewol that killed 304 people in April last year. Multiple agencies have disclosed their full findings. Those responsible are mostly now in jail - or have committed suicide, such as an owner of the vessel. Even the prime minister, Chung Hong-won, had to resign for the government to take responsibility, though he was in no way responsible for the disaster.

Our government officials are pathetically hiding away and indirectly helping to shield commercial entities from responsibility. A Department of Justice spokesman said it had explained many times that the report could not be disclosed at this stage, pending internal investigations that would possibly lead to criminal proceedings or disciplinary action.

At this stage?! You mean three years after the incident? How long does this government plan on dragging out its so-called investigations and refusing to face the music?