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Hong Kong's tainted water scare

CY Leung apologises to residents affected by lead-in-water scandal

In first remarks on report by independent panel, city’s top official says government will follow up on recommended improvements

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 June, 2016, 9:36am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 June, 2016, 9:54am

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has apologised for the distress caused to public estate residents affected by the last year’s lead-in-water scandal.

These were his first remarks on a report released on last Tuesday by an independent investigative panel.

Before he left for France on Monday night, Leung said: “We are very sorry. [It] affected many residents, who were distressed.”

Hong Kong’s Water Supplies Department faces bulk of criticism in tainted-water report

He said he and the government had taken the report very seriously, and that his colleagues from the concerned departments and bureaus had apologised to those affected.

“We will seriously follow up on the advice [on improvements] from the investigative panel,” Leung added.

On May 31, the investigative panel issued a report on the lead-in-water scandal, in which drinking water in 11 public housing estates was found to have a lead level of more than 10 micrograms per litre – the maximum recommended by the World Health Organisation.

The reports blamed the scandal on a “classic case of buck-passing” and urged the government to retest drinking water at all the city’s public housing estates.

Hong Kong bureaucrats’ response to report on lead-tainted water is buck-passing at its finest

Four senior government officials – housing chief Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, development minister Paul Chan Mo-po, Director of Housing Stanley Ying Yiu-hong and Director of Water Supplies Enoch Lam Tin-sing – apologised for what the inquiry described as their “collective failure” to prevent the scandal.

But Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor did not apologise, insisting she had done her duty and saw no intentional breach of rules or abuse of power on the government’s part.

Admitting there were systemic failures in the government, Lam said that she accepted the findings of the report and that the administration would address the problems from four perspectives – contractual, legal, administrative and political responsibilities.