Hong Kong MTR

New photos ‘could prove vital’ in inquiry into scandal engulfing Hong Kong’s most expensive rail project, the Sha Tin-Central link

  • Whistle-blower’s testimony had faced challenge over inconsistencies
  • Subcontractor has until Monday to provide more details about pictures
PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 October, 2018, 6:27pm
UPDATED : Friday, 26 October, 2018, 10:30pm

A whistle-blower who exposed a construction scandal on Hong Kong’s most expensive rail project produced fresh photographic evidence on Friday to shore up testimony given by his colleagues after their credibility had been challenged a day earlier.

Michael Hartmann, head of the commission of inquiry looking into claims of shoddy work at Hung Hom station, said the new images could prove important in the matter involving the HK$97.1 billion (US$12.3 billion) Sha Tin-Central link.

The scandal first erupted in May when media reports revealed steel bars used as a tension device in reinforced concrete had been cut short to hide improper installation into couplers on the platform.

Earlier testimony by Li Run-chao, an assistant foreman with subcontractor China Technology Corporation, was called into question.

Li claimed he saw workers cutting the bars on two separate occasions, one during lunchtime on January 12, 2016, and another later in the month.

Sean Wilken QC, a lawyer for Leighton Contractors (Asia), accused Li of lying and argued all the bars would have been concreted over by that date.

Wilken suggested Li had been induced by his boss, Jason Poon Chuk-hung, the manager director at China Technology, to give false testimony.

I saw the cutting
Li Run-chao, subcontractor foreman

“You have two choices: admit the first incident did not happen in which case I will not have to call you a liar or persist in this allegation. Which [will it be]?” Wilken asked.

“I saw the cutting,” Li said.

“These two incidents did not happen, did they? Someone told you to tell this story to the police,” Wilken said.

Li dismissed the allegations and reiterated concrete was still being poured when he saw workers screwing shortened bars into couplers.

Interrupting the questioning, Christopher To-wing of China Technology, handed over four new photographs that he said proved concrete was still being poured inside the station after the dates in question.

Ian Pennicott SC, QC, the lawyer acting for the commission, pointed out the need to examine the photos as well as questioning other witnesses arising from their admission.

Hartmann, a former non-permanent judge on Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal, suggested adjourning the hearing as “the photographs brought to our attention this morning … could [potentially] be of real importance to this inquiry.”

The hearing will resume on Monday.

China Technology has till then to present the metadata of the pictures, including when and where they were taken and the reasons it waited until Friday to provide the evidence.