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Hong Kong high-speed rail

MTR chairman Frederick Ma says controversial comments on derailment were result of ‘hot weather’ or ‘not praying’

Ma said there was no need to report every incident to the public, or to amend his comments

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 May, 2018, 9:45pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 May, 2018, 10:24am

Hong Kong’s rail chief on Monday blamed the sun and missing his morning prayers for controversial comments he made last week, when he was asked to give details of a derailment on the new express rail link to mainland China.

“Many friends said I was acting out of character. It could be the hot weather, or that I didn’t pray that morning,” Frederick Ma Si-hang, chairman of the MTR Corporation, said while chuckling on a radio programme on Monday morning.

After being pressed for more information on the April incident last Saturday, Ma told reporters that it would be “meaningless” to give more details, as they were not technicians. Also, he said, with more information the media would ask more questions.

He explained that some of the information was internal and could not be disclosed to the public.

“If we tell you it’s OK then it is, there is no need to worry,” Ma said, adding he hoped people would understand his position.

The MTR Corp released its report on the derailment incident on Monday afternoon, blaming a consultancy firm for causing mistakes in track design.

On Monday, Ma said there was no need to report every incident to the public, or to amend his comments.

As the express rail project is in its trial period, it is only normal to run into multiple issues, he said.

Issues such as water leaks, which Ma said did not affect passenger safety, do not have to be reported to the public.

MTR chief Frederick Ma hits back at ‘illogical and unfair’ criticism

“Under the three principles, the public can rest assured that we have a high [degree of] transparency,” Ma said.

In April, a section of the express rail link’s signalling system was affected by a water leakage, but the company did not tell the public about the incident.

That said, the chairman promised that MTR Corp would keep the public updated on uncommon incidents and those concerning public safety, and changes in the commencement date of the high-speed rail link.

After the trial period, Ma said, the project would be inspected by government departments before it commences.

He also urged the public to “have faith” in the corporation’s management.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said Ma was only trying to explain his “poor attitude”.

His comment was illogical and unreasonable
lawmaker Tanya Chan, on Frederick Ma

“His comment was illogical and unreasonable,” she said, adding it was “extraordinary” that the HK$84.4 billion (US$10.7 billion) project should run into such frequent glitches.

Chan also said it was strange that the requirements for reporting incidents to the public had been set by the MTR Corp and urged the government to take a more active role in monitoring the project.

Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong legislator Ben Chan Han-pan who chairs the Legislative Council’s transport panel, said Ma should know the public is concerned about the project.

“Perhaps the public’s confidence in MTR Corp is not too strong,” he said.

Instead of having incidents exposed by the media, the DAB lawmaker said MTR Corp should actively report incidents in a regular fashion.