The Highways Department received an incident report from the MTR Corporation on the Hung Hom station corner-cutting scandal on Friday afternoon and subsequently referred the matter to the police.

The 46-page report was submitted to the government after MTRC Chair Frederick Ma pledged last Wednesday to conduct an internal investigation.

Last week, the transit firm admitted that – in 2015 – workers cut steel bars at the Hung Hom station expansion to make them look as if they were correctly installed. The station expansion is part of the HK$97.1 billion Sha Tin to Central Link.

Hung Hom station corner cutting report diagram
A diagram from the report. Photo: MTRC.

The findings in Friday’s report were partially based on interviews with current and former staff of the MTRC, representatives from Leighton Contractors (Asia) Limited and from two sub-contractors. However, the report noted there were “contradictions and inconsistencies between the recollections of certain individuals.”

In the report, a representative from subcontractor Fang Sheung Construction Company said that on “some occasions and as requested by Leighton… [workers] would carry out cutting of threaded steel bars.” The allegation has been denied by Leighton.

The Highways Department issued a statement Friday night saying it sought a police referral because “the matter may involve criminal elements.” The department said it will thoroughly examine the report.

Hung Hom station steel bars
Workers installing steel bars that were cut short to the wall of the Hung Hom station.

The Highways Department also said that it will ask the MTRC to make clarifications or provide supplementary information if necessary. It said it will not comment further on the incident due to the police investigation.

Report incomplete, lawmakers claim

Lawmaker Michael Tien, chair of the legislature’s Subcommittee on Matters Relating to Railways, said the report did not include the content of the MTRC’s interview with subcontractor China Technology Corporation Limited.

“We all feel that the whistleblower should be from China Technology,” Tien said. “How come the interview with China Technology representatives completely disappeared from the report? The most important source was never mentioned.”

MTRC hung hom station corner cutting report china technology
An excerpt from the MTRC report. Photo: MTRC.

Lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting, deputy chairman of the legislature’s Panel on Transport, said the MTRC did not release the report in a transparent manner and urged the MTRC to publicise the competing versions of events provided different interviewees.

Lawmaker Tanya Chan also doubted the veracity of the report, saying that it was based on “oral history” provided by interviewees and there were gaps in the MTRC’s records.

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.