MTR Corp has decided to part ways with five senior executives after authorities called on the rail operator to fix responsibility for construction scandals at the Shatin-Central Link (SCL) project.
Chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang announced Tuesday evening that Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen, chief executive of the company, has applied for early retirement and will go as soon as a replacement is found, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
In addition, Ma announced that projects director Philco Wong Nai-keung would be leaving with immediate effect as he has tendered his resignation.
Three other senior managers, according to Ma, will also leave the company. They are Lee Tsz-man, who is general manager of SCL and head of E&M construction; Jason Wong Chi-chung, general manager overseeing SCL Civil (East West Line) and projects management office; and Aidan Rooney, general manager of SCL Civil (North South Line).
As for Ma himself, he revealed that he had tendered his resignation twice to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as he wanted to take responsibility for what happened. However, the proposals were not accepted by the government, he said, adding that the government wants him to stay to take care of remaining problems related to the SCL project as well as search for a new CEO.
Ma’s current contract expires at the end of this year.
The chairman, meanwhile, said it was totally unacceptable that an MTR report to the government on the Hung Hom saga had contained some inconsistencies, RTHK reports.
Apologizing to the public, Ma claimed that the board of directors was kept in the dark as the project management team has not provided timely reports and accurate facts.
The comments came a few hours after Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan held a news conference in which he demanded that MTR hold executives accountable for the SCL works scandal.
At the press conference, Chan said that MTR may have provided the government with falsified data relating to construction flaws at the Hung Hom Station, and that design plans for a platform there had been radically altered.
As MTR was unable to provide satisfactory answers to the government’s questions, the incident was deemed a very serious matter and the company needs to pin responsibility, Chan said, suggesting that some executives may need to be relieved of their duties.
The government is the majority stakeholder in MTR Corp, which runs Hong Kong’s commuter rail services.
The transport chief added that MTR’s alleged attempts to cover-up work flaws at an SCL station can be deemed as criminal acts, and that a report has been filed with the police.
Asked if any government officials need to step down due to the MTR scandal, Chan did not answer the question directly but said people can see clearly that the government has shown responsibility and commitment to resolve the problems and disclose to the public quickly all relevant information.
In other comments, Chan said the government will deploy a team of experts to the SCL project management team to enhance the quality and safety assurance.
A source close to MTR told HKEJ that the departing MTR senior executives may face lawsuits or even criminal liability as it is almost certain that there had been professional negligence, although it is not certain whether they had been involved in forgery or other offenses.
So far there has been no evidence or signs confirming the nature of the scandals, and if any of them had committed the crimes of acceptance of advantages and conspiracy to defraud, the source added.
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