The MTR Corporation has said it will conduct a thorough investigation over alleged cheating during its engineers’ qualification exam.

It came after a report from Apple Daily on Wednesday alleged that engineers were given the full answers to the exams beforehand, and that officers gave tips to the engineers to ensure they gave the correct answer.

In response, the MTRC said in a statement to HKFP that it has always put safety as the first priority and has strict rules and systems governing rail safety.

kowloon tong mtr
A MTR station. File Photo: GovHK.

It said it has a strict system for the Engineer’s Person-In-Charge (EPIC) qualification, including lessons, written tests, on-site practice and oral tests. It said exam questions for the written tests were selected randomly by computers, and the results of the written tests were automatically compiled by computers after the tests.

The role of EPICs is to ensure work safety, though they are not themselves responsible for the repair work.

“Additionally, to ensure all EPICs perform to the MTRC’s standards, relevant departments will conduct regular testing and spot checks. EPICs also need to regularly join review courses and re-testing to keep maintain their EPIC qualification. The MTRC also regularly reviews the testing system,” the MTRC said.

“The MTRC is very concerned about the situation and will conduct a thorough investigation. If there is any indication that the testing personnel’s behaviour does not meet with the MTRC’s strict standards, the MTRC will deal with this in accordance with internal procedures. Re-examinations will be conducted if necessary. The MTRC will also comply with relevant government requests and submit a report.”

Housing and Transport Secretary Frank Chan
Housing and Transport Secretary Frank Chan. Photo: In-Media.

The Electrical and Mechanical Services Department said it has demanded the MTRC investigate the incident and submit relevant information.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan said on Wednesday that public safety must be ensured and his bureau will follow up with the incident seriously.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk Ting said the incident was “very shocking.”

“It is akin to gambling with staff members’ lives – this is completely unacceptable,” he said.

Lam Cheuk-ting
Lam Cheuk-ting. Photo: LegCo.

He said that, if staff members had knowledge of the alleged cheating but chose to lie to management using false documents or claims, it could constitute an offence of conspiracy to defraud. Lam is a a former investigator of the Independent Commission Against Corruption.

Lawmaker Michael Tien, chair of the legislature’s Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways, also said the incident was shocking.

“How do we trust these people to monitor our engineering projects in the future?” he asked.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.