The Legislative Council’s Public Accounts Committee deplored the Civil Aviation Department for operating like an independent kingdom and accused its director-general Norman Lo Shung-man of ignoring civil service regulations, Sky Post reported Thursday.
In a 475-page report issued on Wednesday, all of the committee’s seven members agreed to use the word “deplore” to show that the CAD case was a very serious one. The last time the panel issued a strong censure was in its report about former Independent Commission Against Corruption chief Timothy Tong Hin-ming in November 2013.
The Audit Commission said last year the CAD made improper purchases worth tens of millions of Hong Kong dollars, including an airport runway monitor that proved to be useless.
It also accused the department of misusing public funds to buy equipment and build facilities, including toilet and shower facilities for Lo’s private office, without approval from relevant government agencies.
Abraham Shek Lai-him, chairman of the Legco committee, said the CAD and the Architectural Services Department (ASD) should be condemned since “in the implementation of the new CAD headquarters, CAD had deliberately overridden the administration’s internal mechanism to regulate the use of public money.”
The committee also deplored Lo for “wilfully neglecting his responsibilities and duties to provide complete, accurate and not misleading information”, Shek said.
Reports earlier revealed that the CAD had used a 1,500-square-meter area reserved for future expansion. The construction was not mentioned in the papers submitted to relevant Legco committees or subcommittees, nor was the Transport and Housing Bureau informed about it.
Shek said the committee will leave to the government what action to take against officials involved in the case.
Raymond Wong Yuk-man, a committee member, said he personally thought the chiefs of CAD, ASD and the Transport and Housing Bureau should all be replaced.
While the Civil Service Bureau said it will deal with any improper acts done by civil servants in a fair manner, a civil servants’ union noted that disciplinary hearings usually take several years to be completed, Ming Pao Daily reported.
And since Lo is only two years away from retirement, he may avoid any potential punishment, the union said.
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