The MTR Corporation has decided to conduct a review of processes and procedures for the Shatin to Central Link following a special board meeting on Thursday.

It came after four engineering scandals relating to the HK$97.1 billion project were revealed by the press. The MTRC’s Capital Works Committee will hire external consultants to assist it in the review.

The MTRC said it hopes the review will be completed within three months.

From left: Philco Wong, Frederick Ma, Lincoln Leong. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

The four scandals included three corner-cutting incidents at Hung Hom, To Kwa Wan and Exhibition Centre station, where steel bars of support walls were cut short, support walls were “shaved thin,” and inadequate supporting I-beams were installed respectively. Another scandal at the Exhibition Centre station involved an engineering mistake that two support walls were built in an incorrect direction.

The government has said it was disappointed, as it only knew of the engineering problems after the media reported them. Frederick Ma, chair of the MTRC board, told reporters that there was room to improve the notification system.

“It is certainly not ideal in some parts,” he said. “The government should be notified with some cases, but we did not do so.”

Ma said he respected “the culture of responsibility” but he did not directly answer as to whether someone would have to resign over the scandals.

“The MTRC was seen by many as one of the listed companies which had good governance,” he said. “We did not want to see such incidents. We must review [the processes and procedures].”

MTRC CEO Lincoln Leong said they were not aware of the four incidents beforehand: “At the end of the day, as the chief executive officer of MTR, I am accountable for the activities of the company.”

Frederick Ma and Lincoln Leong. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

Leong said the performance of contractors will be taken into account in future tendering activities: “Obviously, we are not very satisfied with their performance in many of these aspects.”

MTRC Projects Director Philco Wong said non-compliance reports will be issued to contractors if they did not follow the design plans.

He said the reports were common as the projects were complex and there were several levels of subcontractors hired by the contractors.

He said the MTRC would make public the non-conformance reports if they involved public safety issues, but did not reveal how many such reports had been issued.

“Non-conformance reports are not something bad – it only means our monitoring staff noticed something that was not done in accordance with the plans,” he said. “Contractors must fix the issues according to the design plans.”

He said the MTRC will deal with the issue seriously if illegal activity was found.

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

The government has set up an independent commission to investigate one of the engineering scandals found at the Hung Hom station.

Leighton Asia, the main contractor of the project, has not responded to media enquiries since the incident was exposed last month.

Ma said the commission will have legal powers to summon Leighton, which the MTRC lacks.

Asked by reporters if the MTRC has no other way to force Leighton to give a public account of the incident, Ma said: “We have a lot of limitations.”

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.