Hong Kong construction whistleblower launches campaign to scrutinise major projects

The whistleblower who exposed substandard construction work on a Hong Kong metro station has launched a  crowdfunding campaign to raise money for a group that would inspect construction projects and launch legal challenges against the government.

Jason Poon Chuk-hung, managing director of construction firm China Technology Corporation, announced this week that he aimed to raise more than US$600,000 to assemble a panel of lawyers, engineers and other professionals to raise public awareness of construction issues that had been "swept under the carpet".

He told newspaper South China Morning Post: "Our campaign will consist of four steps, including two judicial reviews, an investigative report and long-term monitoring of Hong Kong’s construction sector."

The campaign, launched on the GoGetFunding platform, has so far raised HK$117,726 (about US$15,000).

According to the newspaper, the panel includes University of Hong Kong civil engineering associate professor Albert Yeung Tak-chung.

Poon came to prominence after he exposed the cover-up of defective work at Hung Hom MTR station, part of the $12.6bn Sha Tin-Central link.

The accusations concerned steel bars being cut short rather than being screwed into couplers at the diaphragm wall and platform slab. Concrete was then poured even though the bars were not connected to the couplers.

The government set up an independent commission of inquiry into his allegations in July last year. The terms of the commission, chaired by retired judge Michael Hartman, were later expanded to cover unauthorised design changes on the north and south approach tunnels and defective stitch joints and non-compliant shunt necks in the north approach tunnel.

The commission issued an interim report in May finding that there were no structural safety issues on the new platforms, and therefore no need to rebuild or reinforce some sections.

In October 2018, authorities suspended Leighton Contractors (Asia), the main contractor on the Hung Hom project, from bidding for government contracts for a year.

Poon said he hoped to launch a judicial review against the commission’s recent instructions, and possibly against its final report, which is due in March next year.

Image: Hung Hom station on the Sha Tin-Central link (WiNG/public domain)

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