Lawmaker James To has criticised a predominantly pro-establishment panel of lawmakers who decided not to follow up on an investigation report on the 2012 Lamma ferry collision.

39 people were killed on October 1, 2012 when a passenger ferry and a Hongkong Electric company-owned vessel collided near Yung Shue Wan. The Hongkong Electric vessel was taking staff members to watch the national day fireworks show that year.

A 436-page government investigation report on the accident was completed in 2014 but has yet to be made public. Lawmakers can read the report but only after signing a confidentiality agreement, under which they cannot write notes, and cannot comment publicly on the report.

Lamma Island ferry collision
The Lamma Island ferry collision.

On Thursday, the legislature’s Panel on Economic Development, which is dominated by the pro-Beijing camp, decided not to follow up on the findings, meaning there will be no further discussion of the report in the legislature.

Pro-Beijing lawmakers have said people should “look forward” and move on from the incident. The Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions’ Alice Mak told i-Cable News earlier this week that members of her party thought they should focus on discussing how to improve maritime regulations to improve safety rather than holding further discussions on the report.

“But we understand the way the [victims’] family members feel. And just because we will not read the report does not mean that we will relax. We need to more closely monitor the government and do a good job on future legislative and regulatory work,” she said.

The news channel reported that only four lawmakers had signed the confidentiality agreement to read the report.

Democratic Party lawmaker James To said it was unreasonable for lawmakers who had not read the report to decide whether to hold a closed-door meeting about it.

James To
James To. Photo:

“Those who have not read it are able to decide whether those who have read it can hold a meeting on behalf of the public. Nothing is more absurd than that.”

“The pro-Beijing camp lawmakers have never exercised the responsibilities that they owed residents – they have disappointed Hongkongers, they have disappointed the families of the victims.”

To said the parts of the report that were made public showed that the internal problem at the Marine Department was very serious. He said ten officers were internally disciplined, and two others were criminally convicted by courts.

“The investigation results must be made public,” To said. “The report concerns the safety of Hong Kong people, and it can help lawmakers understand what mistakes the government has made – it is of utmost importance to see whether the mistakes have been fixed.”

To said he will continue filing questions on the accident at the legislature.

Kris Cheng

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.