image

Lamma ferry crash

Families of Lamma ferry disaster victims keep up fight for more details of internal investigation

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 September, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 September, 2015, 10:53am

Families involved in the 2012 Lamma ferry disaster are again pressing the government for full details of an internal investigative report on the tragedy, which has only been partly disclosed to them under a confidentiality agreement.

Irene Cheng, whose 24-year-old son Thomas Koo Man-cheung was one of 39 victims, said that three years on the government had yet to offer an explanation of what went wrong.

Through civil claims, Cheng and other bereaved family members were allowed to see a report by a Transport and Housing Bureau task force last March - but large amounts of information, including the names of 17 Marine Department officials implicated for misconduct, were withheld.

"We've been struggling for three years, we are really tired and I am really disappointed with the government," she told a press conference, just days before the October 1 tragedy's third anniversary. "They have repeatedly broken their promises. Trust in the government has reached a low point."

Cheng added that although the captains of the two vessels had been jailed, "deep inside, everyone knows who is really most responsible" - the Marine Department officials involved.

"The victims died because of the lack of a watertight door - the two captains had nothing to do with this," she said. "If the government really did nothing wrong, why won't the Department of Justice just let us see the whole report?"

Cheng said she would make another attempt to obtain disclosure of the report's full details through the courts. Once this information was known, she would be able to take legal action against those responsible.

Cheng and other relatives of victims have scheduled a meeting with the Department of Justice on Wednesday.

We've been struggling for three years, we are really tired and I am really disappointed with the government
Irene Cheng, whose 24-year-old son Thomas Koo Man-cheung was one of 39 victims

Democratic Party lawmaker James To Kun-sun, who has been helping victims' families, said those who had already reached settlements with the government should be allowed to see the full report, as it was their right.

A Department of Justice spokesman said it had explained on many occasions that the report could not be disclosed at this stage, pending internal investigations that would possibly involve criminal proceedings or disciplinary action. It would not comment on the Marine Department staff implicated.

On October 1, 2012, the Hong Kong and Kowloon Ferry catamaran Sea Smooth crashed into the Hongkong Electric ferry Lamma IV, which was taking passengers to watch a National Day fireworks display.

Cheng said she had no objection to fireworks being restaged this year but will not be enjoying it, despite a view of the harbour from her home. "We will never turn off the lights and gather in a corner to admire it like we once did," she said.