New MTR boss must restore public faith in rail operator following string of scandals on Sha Tin-Central link, says HK leader Carrie Lam

13-Feb-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

The new boss of Hong Kong’s beleaguered rail operator must restore public confidence following a string of scandals on the Sha Tin-Central link, the city’s leader said on Tuesday.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the incoming non-executive chair at the MTR Corporation would face serious challenges, especially those arising from the HK$97.1 billion (US$12.4 billion) line, Hong Kong’s most expensive rail project to date.

Lam stopped short of naming the MTR Corp’s new boss, citing corporate protocol, but the Post revealed on Friday it was thought the new chair would be Rex Auyeung Pak-kuen, the head of the governing council at Lingnan University.

“Various problems arose from the Sha Tin-Central rail link in the past year,” Lam said before an Executive Council meeting. “The new chair will have to work very hard to restore public faith in the corporation.”

The government is the biggest shareholder in the MTR Corp, with a 75 per cent stake.

Auyeung, 66, retired in June last year as chair of Asia operations for investment and retirement solutions consultancy Principal International, after a 26-year stint. He is expected to succeed Frederick Ma Si-hang, who will step down at the end of June when his contract expires.

Ma earlier declined Lam’s offer to have his three-year contract extended. Instead, he chose to extend it for six months so he could finish hiring a new CEO.

The MTR Corp has been embroiled in a construction scandal over the Sha Tin-Central project since substandard work was found in the expanded Hung Hom station in May last year. Missing documents on safety checks of certain parts of the station were exposed more recently.

It is a subject of a commission of inquiry and a police investigation.

Lawmaker and former Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation chair Michael Tien Puk-sun said he did not know Auyeung well, but was confident he was trusted by the government.

“He once sat down with students and listened to their views, which shows he has political wisdom,” Tien said.

Auyeung’s appointment marks the highest-level change in the firm’s leadership since the scandal began. Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen has also opted to leave as CEO, and will retire once Ma has hired his replacement.

The rail operator’s managing director, Jacob Kam Chak-pui, is believed to be the favourite to replace Leong, the Post reported in November.

Last Friday, the MTR Corp announced that a former manager, Roger Bayliss, would return in March as projects director, a position left vacant after Philco Wong Nai-keung was forced to resign in August last year.


Category: Hong Kong

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