A Hong Kong newsmaker is chosen each month by HKFP. Click here to view previous nominees. Pilot and lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho is selected as HKFP’s Person of the Month for December 2016.

Pilot and the Civic Party’s lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho has played a key role in exposing the malfunctions of the new air traffic management system at the Hong Kong airport, including multiple cases planes on the ground appearing on the radar at the wrong position and at the wrong altitude.

Tam began urging the Civil Aviation Department in November to explain to the public issues with the new system, after receiving tip-offs from concerned employees at the department.

Since then, more irregularities have been exposed either by Tam or local media, sparking safety concerns. Tam also revealed an internal notice issued by the department warning its employees against disclosing information to the public.

Jeremy Tam Man-ho. File Photo: Stanley Leung/HKFP.

Tam has, nevertheless, called on the department to increase accountability and transparency of its operations. But the department has shown little initiative to respond to public demands, with its head Simon Li Tin-chui denying the malfunctions had compromised aviation safety and calling such abnormalities “unavoidable.”

Earlier this month, the department reported the leaking of a radar image from its new air traffic control system – published by Ming Pao – to the police.

See also: New air traffic system malfunctions are ‘unavoidable’, says Civil Aviation Dept. head

Besides his efforts to hold the Civil Aviation Department accountable over the last two months, Tam previously used his expertise to raise awareness on issues related to the airport, including the third runway and the “bag-gate” controversy involving the lost luggage of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s daughter.

Jeremy Tam. File Photo: Jeremy Tam, via Facebook.

Tam was the first Chinese person to serve on the executive committee of the Hong Kong Aircrew Officers Association – a union of pilots employed by Cathay Pacific Airways. During his term on the committee, he advocated equal pay and fair treatment of Chinese and foreign pilots, energy conservation and environmental protection in the airline industry.

Tam unsuccessfully ran for the district elections in 2007, 2011 and 2015, as well as the Legislative Council election in 2012. But he was finally elected into the legislature in September via the Kowloon East Constituency, succeeding Civic Party’s co-founder Alan Leong Kah-kit.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.