Former judge will lead investigation of Hong Kong MTR's corner-cutting scandal

South China Morning Post, with additional reporting by Edmund Ho

The city’s leader Carrie Lam tasks independent team to find out what happened with the Sha-Tin-Central rail link’s corner-cutting scandal

South China Morning Post, with additional reporting by Edmund Ho |

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The government says the problem has now been fixed.

Hong Kong’s leader yesterday announced an independent investigation into the Sha Tin-Central rail link’s scandal after workers were found to have not followed building rules. She promised to give the investigators the power to find out what went wrong on the MTR Corp’s HK$97.1 billion project.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said that the incidents were serious enough reasons to form an investigative team known as a commission of inquiry. Former judge of the Court of Final Appeal Michael Hartmann will lead the team.

Last week, MTR said a subcontractor, Fang Sheung Construction, did a bad job after platforms were found to be too weak for the new link under Hung Hom station. MTR said workers hid their mistakes by cutting metal bars to make it seem as if they had been put in correctly, but they had not.

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Philco Wong Nai-keung, projects director for the MTR Corp, said the company doesn’t have any proof to show who did it, but said that the most important thing is that the problem is now fixed.

Lam said the team would look into how bad the problems were, as well as the government’s role in watching over MTR Corp’s projects.

Lawmakers have pressured the government to put together a team, especially after another problem was found at the incomplete To Kwa Wan station. A wall was found unstable because there wasn’t enough support.

Lam said she would talk to her Executive Council about the members on the team and its responsibilities, but has not yet set a date for an appointment to talk.

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But the MTR’s updates have not reassured students.

“The fact that such issues have come up continuously is disappointing. These commission results better work out for the justice of the public,” said Lauren Faith Lau, 17, a student at International Christian Quality Music Secondary and Primary School.

“I think it's a little worrying but thorough evaluation and transparent communication will be able to solve the issue,” said Bakhita Fung, 17, of Island School

“I am quite disappointed with the MTR Corporation. Such negligence shouldn’t be tolerated, especially when there’s more than one of these cases.” added Ally Chan, 16, from Baptist Lui Ming Choi Secondary School.

Edited by Nicole Moraleda