Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has appointed a judge and a former ICAC commissioner to form an independent commission on the lead-in-water scandal.

Judge Andrew Chan Hing-wai and former ICAC commissioner Alan Lai Nin were appointed as chairman and member of the commission respectively.

The commission’s tasks are to find out the causes of excessive lead found in drinking water at public housing developments, to review the adequacy of the present regulatory and monitoring system, and make recommendations with regard to the safety of drinking water in Hong Kong.

The commission is expected to report in nine months.

Judge Andrew Chan (left) and former ICAC commissioner Alan Lai.
Judge Andrew Chan (left) and former ICAC commissioner Alan Lai (right). Photo: Gov HK.

Leung said, “There is nothing unusual about having two commissioners.” He also said the number of people and time allocated is similar to the commission set up to investigate the 2012 Lamma Island ferry collision.

He added, “Both the commissioners are expected to be pretty heavily committed in the next nine months.”

Chan is currently a judge of the Court of First Instance of the High Court and Lai is a consultant at the Independent Police Complaints Council.

The pro-Beijing DAB party said it might support invoking special powers of the legislature to investigate the lead-in-water scandal, signalling a shift in tone since it voted down an identical bill in July.

The last Commission of Inquiry was established to investigate the Lamma Island ferry collision in 2012, an incident that resulted in 39 deaths and 92 injuries. The two captains were charged with manslaughter. Legal proceedings concluded in February 2015.

Commissioners are allowed to summon any person to give evidence and issue warrants for arrests if one fails to comply. They can also receive and consider any evidence, even if such evidence would not be admissible in civil or criminal proceedings. They have the right to enter and inspect any premises and exercise other powers “as may be necessary” as long as they are for the purposes of inquiry. However, evidence provided to the Commission cannot be used in court, unless an individual is charged with perjury.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.