Date
28 June 2017
In 2015, excessive lead was discovered in the drinking water at a dozen public housing estates, leading to a widespread crisis. Photo: Reuters.
In 2015, excessive lead was discovered in the drinking water at a dozen public housing estates, leading to a widespread crisis. Photo: Reuters.

Legco body slams housing director over lead-in-water scandal

Director of Housing Stanley Ying should be partly blamed for the government’s poor response to the lead-in-water scandal in 2015, according to a report by the Public Accounts Committee of the Legislative Council.

The committee said in the report published Wednesday that the government had held interdepartmental meetings to find ways to contain the crisis but there were no minutes of the first seven meetings, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

This suggested that the Housing Department, which was responsible for coordinating with various departments on the crisis, had deviated from good governance by running counter to the principles of proper record keeping and transparency, the committee said.

It added that Ying could hardly absolve himself since he chaired all the meetings. His explanation of not being aware about keeping minutes until the eighth meeting was unacceptable.

The committee said Ying should have known better as an experienced senior official.

Lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, a member of the committee, questioned why the deputy directors and the assistant directors failed to remind Ying of the necessity of preparing meeting minutes.

In addition, the committee slammed the Housing Department for being negligent when taking water samples from affected public estates and for failing to provide sufficient protection to tenants and workers during the process of disposing of materials containing asbestos.

In response, a spokesman from the department said the committee’s opinions will be put into practice. Reviews on how to make improvements to ensure public safety will continue.

The crisis shocked Hong Kong after excessive lead was discovered in the drinking water at a dozen public housing estates.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 13

[Chinese version 中文版]

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