19 March 2019
Hong Kong police use pepper spray to control protesters amid a controversial rail project. Photo: youtube
Hong Kong police use pepper spray to control protesters amid a controversial rail project. Photo: youtube

Authorities face flak over old geology report on MTR project

Hong Kong authorities and the local railway operator, MTR Corporation, are facing heat for alleged failure to take heed of an old government report that had pointed to difficult geological conditions in a section of a planned high-speed rail line.

MTR said last month that construction of the Hong Kong section of a high-speed rail link will be delayed, with services to begin in 2017, rather than in 2015 as originally planned, due to weather and geology factors.

Ming Pao Daily News reported Monday that a geology report from the government’s Civil Engineering and Development Department back in 1997 had indicated that there was strong granite between 23 to 33 meters underground at the site of the West Rail Line’s Austin Station which was to also serve as the high-speed rail link main station.

Gary Fan, vice chairman of the Legislative Council’s Panel on Transport, said it would amount to professional misconduct if the government and the MTR were not aware of the existence of such a geology report. Worse, it could amount to a conspiracy to conceal if the authorities were aware of the facts outlined in the report but chose to remain silent, he was quoted as saying.

Fan said he will, at a Legco meeting Monday, corner the government and the MTR over the 1997 geology report.

On Sunday, pepper spray was used by Hong Kong police to control protestors, which included legislator “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung, in a demonstration at Admiralty over the high-speed rail link project, Apple Daily reported Monday.

The police said they had to use pepper spray as some unknown liquid was directed at them by some protesters and as a demonstrator also attacked the police with a stick.

Chong Yiu-kwong, deputy chairman of Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor, an independent rights organization, said after reviewing video footage of the incident that the police looked to be in complete control and that the use of pepper spray seemed excessive.

Chong said Leung Kwok-hung, who was said to have suffered repeated jets of pepper spray into his eyes, could consider filing a complaint or lawsuit against the police, according to the report.

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