Lamma ferry crash

For families of victims who died in 2012 Lamma ferry disaster, only full disclosure can bring closure

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 September, 2015, 12:50am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 September, 2015, 12:50am

Hundreds of thousands of revellers will flock to the harbourfront to watch the National Day fireworks tomorrow night. But those who have been haunted by the Lamma ferry disaster that happened during the celebrations in 2012 can be excused if they decide to stay away. As recounted by one of the survivors recently, he could not bear to watch the fireworks display when justice for those who perished in the accident has yet to be served.

That the marine tragedy remains an unresolved issue for the victims' families and survivors is regrettable. The accident claimed the lives of 39 people when two vessels en route to the fireworks collided near Lamma Island. Since then, various probes have identified a series of mistakes and systemic failures on the part of the government and the industry. Separately, the captains of the two vessels have been jailed, while two senior government marine officials are facing trial. But key information in an internal government probe, such as the names of the officials involved, has been redacted, making the pursuit of legal redress and pinpointing responsibility difficult. The government also remains coy on questions like whether there will be internal disciplinary action and more prosecutions.

Three years have passed. The victims' families are understandably frustrated by the lack of progress and made use of the Mid-Autumn Festival, a time for family reunion, to push the government for full disclosure. The Department of Justice stressed that the details could not be released, pending possible criminal proceedings or internal disciplinary action. Officials will further discuss the matter with victims' families today. This will be a good opportunity to sort out the issues.

The tragedy is one of the worst in Hong Kong's maritime history. While much effort has been made to prevent such a disaster from happening again, the saga cannot end until the aggrieved can truly move on. This will not happen until justice is served. The government should do whatever it can to help bring closure to the families.