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The Central harbourfront mega site, which could yield a total gross floor area of 1.6 million sq ft, is estimated to fetch between HK$37 billion and HK$55 billion. For the first time since the MTR’s formation in 1975, the company has taken part in a government land bid, as part of a consortium. Photo: Martin Chan

Letters | MTR Corp must clear the air over bid for Central harbourfront site

  • If the company is transforming itself into a just another for-profit real estate developer, it owes the public an explanation on why it has made such a move
Hong Kong
I am writing to express my grave concern over the MTR Corp’s unprecedented action of bidding for the New Central Harbourfront Commercial Site 3.

Although the MTR Corp claimed the government-appointed board members had excused themselves during discussions and meetings on the matter to avoid conflict of interest, the company should consider withdrawing its participation to prevent further speculation (“ MTR Corp says it followed right protocol over Central land bid”, June 21).
Firstly, the tender adopts a two-envelope approach that implies a significant amount of discretionary and subjective judgment on the part of the government. Secondly, the Hong Kong government has a 75 per cent stake in MTR Corp and nothing can be done to prevent people from perceiving the process as biased.

This unprecedented decision may also raise the question of whether “empire building” is taking place in MTR Corp, or the perception that corporate governance is being compromised.

Contrary to the claim that the unusual decision is acceptable and free from conflict of interest as the government-appointed board members were excused, these directors should have been given the opportunity to vote against such a decision to protect the reputation of the corporation and the Hong Kong government. Excusing themselves from voting just cannot clear all suspicion.

MTR enjoys policy and legal privileges as it is the monopoly operator in Hong Kong’s mass transit railway service. If the company transforms itself into a just another for-profit real estate developer, it owes the public an explanation as to why it has made such a move.

Calvin Tsui, Ap Lei Chau