17 July 2019
MTR officials acknowledge the need to enhance the notification system at the company. Photo: HKEJ
MTR officials acknowledge the need to enhance the notification system at the company. Photo: HKEJ

MTR bosses admit responsibility for scandals, dodge resign call

The MTR Corp. management admitted responsibility for the spate of scandals that rocked the Shatin-Central Link (SCL) project, but did not give a clear answer on whether the rail operator’s top officials will resign, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

“From my point of view, I always respect the culture of accountability,” MTR chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang said, when he was asked whether he would resign after the second special meeting of the company’s board of directors on Wednesday.

MTR chief executive Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen said he would bear the responsibility of the construction quality problems as the head of the company.

Project director Philco Wong Nai-keung also evaded the question, saying only that he would strive to finish the project as scheduled.

Ma said the company’s top priority is to improve the management of the construction site and notification system, as well as to find the root of the problem.

“The notification system now is absolutely not ideal,” Ma said. “In these incidents, MTR should have notified the government. We should review the whole process. We are duty-bound.”

But he refused to accept the accusation that the company has “a culture of cover-ups”, noting that it has a good and long history.

He said MTR cannot urge Leighton Contractors (Asia), the main contractor for the SCL project,  to answer publicly on the construction scandals, but he said he is counting on the commission of inquiry to summon the contractor to find out the truth.

Last week, Ma said he had ordered management to undertake a serious review of all the construction work at the SCL project and to fix the notification system.

The company’s board of directors will also review the responsibility of management regarding the scandals, he added.

In a meeting on Wednesday, the board decided to hand over the review to the company’s Capital Works Committee and hire external consultants for the review.

The board expects the review to be completed in three months.

Wong said investigations so far have not indicated any safety issues concerning the SCL project, but promised to report to the authorities if there is any violation of the law.

The Highways Department, the overseer of the construction project, demanded a full and detailed explanation before next Wednesday.

A committee of inquiry chaired by Justice Michael Hartmann has been commissioned to look into the series of scandals at the SCL project.

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