Saturday, July 13, 2024
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Leighton was fined only HK$40,000 by the Kowloon City Magistrates’ Courts on Tuesday after it admitted failing to adhere to an approved plan when building a 131.4-square-meter air-conditioning room at Hung Hom MTR station in 2018. Whistleblower Jason Poon Chuk-hung said yesterday the conviction only covers the substandard work at the room and was unrelated to the corner-cutting scandal at Hung Hom station.

Speaking on the radio yesterday, Poon said the government might have decided on a lighter charge against the construction company and might not continue to follow up on the case so MTR Corp would not get into trouble. ” According to hearsay, as the government has a shareholding of over 70 per cent of the MTRC, it always sees it as part of the authorities and doesn’t want the MTRC to be involved in the prosecution,” he said. The government had prosecuted the company for failing to follow plans for the room, Poon said.

But there were more than 100 differences with the construction plan within the Hung Hom station, he said, questioning why the government did not prosecute the company for that. Roundtable lawmaker Michael Tien Puk-sun said in the Legislative Council that he had heard authorities had applied the brakes on the prosecution.

The government had only prosecuted the constructor for the substandard work in the room, which was only a minor part of the Shatin to Central Link scandal, Tien said. The major issue of the incident involved thousands of reinforcement bars that had been cut short in the Hung Hom station extension, but the government had not prosecuted the company for that, Tien said, adding the Development Bureau and Buildings Department should reveal whether all prosecution work had ended. He added he will follow up on the issue in the Legislative Council.

“If the link remains stable without these thousands of steel bars, the MTR would not have needed to spend an extra HK$2 billion to reinforce it,” he said. But the government called the claims irresponsible yesterday, without naming Poon and Tien. It said law enforcers were continuing to conduct criminal investigations into the incident. The Buildings Department and the Department of Justice were reviewing the judgment and may consider filing an appeal, the Buildings authority said.Tien said he was happy with the government response as it meant authorities would continue to investigate the scandal.

“The most important thing is that the government is willing to carry out the investigation,” he said. Tien said he disagreed with the court’s judgment that the substandard construction only affected a small area and did not cause casualties. The judgment will give an excuse to future government contractors to not follow construction plans, he said, urging the government to file an appeal.


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