Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Chief Secretary of Administration, denied on Friday morning that the storage fire in Kowloon Bay had anything to do with the building revitalisation policy that she previously proposed.

At a cocktail party celebrating the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, she told local media that the policy was meant for a full conversion of buildings, such as rebuilding a hotel at the same location, so that safety requirements can be met. Old industrial buildings are difficult to convert because the ownership is complicated, she added.

fire Amoycan Industrial Centre
Fire at the Amoycan Industrial Centre building. Photo: Don Wong via Facebook Hong Kong Breaking Incident Group.

However, she also said that the safety measures for old industrial buildings have room for improvement. The Amoycan Industrial Building in Ngau Tau Kok, where the fire took place, was built over 50 years ago.

The fire, which lasted for 108 hours before it was put out, took the lives of two firefighters, Thomas Cheung and Samuel Hui. The Director of the Fire Services Department, Lai Man-hin, was absent from the cocktail party and the flag raising ceremony in the morning. The Fire Services Department told local media prior to the events that neither Lai nor other management-level firefighters would attend.

Lai Man-hin
Lai Man-hin. File

The government announced on Thursday night that it would award posthumous Gold Medals for Bravery to the two deceased firefighters.

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.