Chief executive Leung Chun-ying has apologised for the events which caused lead to pollute the water supply of a number of public housing estates. Speaking to local media after the release of an independent report into the matter, he said, “We are very sorry that it affected so many residents and made them feel distressed.” News of the lead water scandal first broke last July. The Chief Executive was meeting with the media before his visit to France.

A redacted report by an independent commission was released last Tuesday, which blamed a “collective failure on the part of all stakeholders,” who transferred the duty of supervision to others, for excessive lead being found in drinking water in 11 public housing estates last year. The stakeholders included the Water Supplies Department, the Housing Authority, four main contractors, plumbing subcontractors and licensed plumbers.

Leung Chun-ying
Leung Chun-ying. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Leung said that because the government regarded the issue as greatly important, it had released the findings, and “apart from an extremely small portion, which could not be released publicly due to legal reasons, the entire report [regarding the scandal] is open to the public.” He also said that the government will follow up on the report’s 17 recommendations, which include further tests of drinking water at all public housing estates as well as the establishment of a water safety plan.

The redacted paragraphs involve Hang Lee and Golden Day, plumbing subcontractors for some of the affected public estates. The government said it will release the full report after the relevant investigations and court cases – if any – have been concluded.

lead water press conference
Anti-clockwise, left to right: Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po, Chairman of the Housing Authority and Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, Director of Housing Stanley Ying Yiu-hong and Director of Water Supplies Enoch Lam Tin-sing. Chief Secretary of Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, in the middle, did not follow others in apologising for the scandal. Photo: GovHK.

After the release of the report, four top government officials, whose bureaus and departments were involved in the excessive lead in drinking water scandal apologised, but Chief Secretary of Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor did not follow suit. She said that government departments should take responsibility.

chantal yuen

Chantal Yuen

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.