Lamma Forums

Ferry collision 01/10/12
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Author:  foreign body [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:41 am ]
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To generalize grossly, it appears that villagers are impervious to anything that is not immediately related to clan or commercial interests while the majority of gweilo seem to flow above social concerns as if they lived somewhere else entirely. Sorry for that gross generalization-- I know it does not apply to a great many people--, but does it not have some truth? If not, what accounts for the lack of a public show of togetherness in our mourning?

I don't know how you can feel and show real emotions for people that you have never met.
If we were to feel a real and deep sense of loss for those who die in Hk every day, we would be in a state of constant mourning.

Yes, it was a tragic accident, but so was the landslide that destroyed a school in China, or the mining accident..
Should we mourn some victims because of their geographical proximity and not others because they live in a slightly more distant part of the country? And how about those who perish 10,000 miles from us?

As far as i am concerned, i can only mourn people who meant something to me, people i had a personal and emotional connection with.

I haven't got a TV, so maybe that explains why i am still immune to the global trend of mourning strangers.
I never understood why millions of people mourned Lady D or Mao Tze Tung.
Neither of them touched my life.
I did feel a sense of loss after the death of writers and thinkers whose books touched my life, but i wouldn't say i was in a state of mourning.

Author:  Hanbaobao [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:09 am ]
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草民 wrote:

I have been struck by the paucity of public mourning on Lamma, even while I know from this thread and from speaking with many individuals that there is great sympathy and sadness on the island.

As a small personal gesture I'd hoped to sign the condolence book yesterday at the Rural Committee building, however when I went past at 9:30 am yesterday they hadn't put it out yet. I asked them if it would be out to sign in the evening when I came back and they said it would however when I came back at 7:30 they were closed.

It would be good if they could have it out during the hours when most people are on their way to and from work.

Author:  Lamma-Gung [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:14 am ]
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Emailed poster from the Marine Police who's finally getting up to speed in locating eyewitnesses. I talked to our local boys in person and on the phone yesterday, recommending them to simply check out this forum with 5+ first-hand eyewitness accounts and several links to the radio/TV/blog/newspaper interviews with eyewitnesses.

So even if you've not been approached yet by media people hunting all over YSW for interviews these last few days, or refused to be interviewed, now is your chance to help in the investigations to find out what exactly and why it all happened. Call 9188 2710 to help them collecting as much information as possible!

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Author:  Lamma-Gung [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:34 am ]
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Hanbaobao wrote:
It would be good if they could have it out during the hours when most people are on their way to and from work.

Lamma-Por signed last night coming back from town after 7pm, as there's also a Condolence Book at the District Council Office and they stay open longer than the office-hours-only of the Rural Committee, 9am-5pm and tomorrow Sat till 1pm.

My Online Condolence Book is open 24/7, accessible from anywhere, and will remain online even after the 3 official mourning days will end tomorrow. It also lets you write much easier and longer, more thoughtful messages than handwriting with a thick black marker into one of the "Guest Book"s.

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Author:  Alan [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:34 am ]
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草民 wrote:
I have been struck by the paucity of public mourning on Lamma, even while I know from this thread and from speaking with many individuals that there is great sympathy and sadness on the island.

All the casualties were on the HKE ferry, and I haven't heard that any were residents of Lamma.

That doesn't mean that nobody cares, but it's not personal.

Author:  Lamma-Gung [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:21 pm ]
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There's a very well-written and honest blog story expressing the same feelings of disconnect from this tragedy, even though it happened so close to us:
Reflecting on the Resonance of Disaster

It's personal for me. I've known some wonderful people in HK Electric for a long time. Without their loyal support and encouragement in many ways, way beyond just being advertisers, this entire website would have closed down many years ago. Visiting the Power Station several times, even riding on one of their commuter ferries, same model as the sunken one, gave me an appreciation for all the demanding and professional work going on in there by the "HK Electric Family", where employees work for decades, often till retirement, securing the astounding 99.999% up-time of our power supply.

These are the people and their families who generate the electricity for our homes, the Power Station is so close and we see it every day, we encounter the workers all over Lamma frequently, walking through Main Street, in restaurants, biking from Power Station Beach to the ferry pier to and from work, driving on Power Station Road, installing cables and equipment, their red-shirted volunteers planting trees or cleaning up, staff showing up at and supporting many local events, sports and good causes, etc.

Yes, few of the 700 Power Station employees live here and none of the victims seems to have lived here, but they affect our life every day. I couldn't even type these words without their 24/7 work generating the power I rely on for my work and creature comforts.

All the almost non-stop coverage of every angle of the disaster on Chinese-language TV, much of it shot so close to our home and places I know and love, interviews with survivors and eyewitnesses, sitting in Man Kee with a Sea Smooth passenger while he's shown being interviewed on TVB Jade on the TV above us, the media coverage magnifies the impact tremendously, of course.

The last time with a similar stunning emotional impact I remember was watching the 9/11 events unfold live in real time on CNN from the very beginning, being glued to the screen for hours, living in a high-rise on HK Island at the time. I didn't know any of the victims personally either, but watching those towers come down....

I've met HKKF's Nelson Ng, a low-key, modest, cheerful, very friendly family man numerous times at local events, even interviewing him for hours in his small office. Seeing him weeping solemnly for the loss of the 2 children of his relatives, during a TV interview, puts a face familiar to me on the so far anonymous, mostly unnamed victims.

Author:  mysmellyleftfoot [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:48 pm ]
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It seems as though everyone is eager to point fingers and look for someone to blame- particularly in regards to the crew of the HKKF. But if we take a step back I think we'll be reminded of the fact that most of the crew are far from maritime experts, but rather common joe's working long hours on low wages, just trying to hold down a job. While it does sound like they may not have handled the situation professionally, how many of these crew members can be considered truly and formally professional?

And let us not forget- it was us, Lamma residents, who were up in arms when the cost of the ferry went up a mere 2 dollars last year.

Author:  foreign body [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:11 pm ]
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I agree with what you say about crew members not being sufficiently trained and paid.
I would also point out that the ferry service that day was under enormous strain: they laid out extra ferries to deal with the long queues of tourists. Ferries went to and from Lamma non-stop. A friend told me that it took her only 20 minutes to get back to Central that day, the ferry was going at full speed in order to make time for extra rides.
I feel sorry for the captain who had been working a 10-h long shift. Nobody, either bus or taxi driver, should work these crazy shifts. They are responsible not only for their safety but also for that of others.
HKFF should hire more crew members and ensure they work shorter shifts and get plenty of rest between ferry rides. The sight of a coxswain eating his meals in the wheelroom is scary.


Author:  Trey Menefee [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 4:14 pm ]
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I just spoke to a WSJ reporter, Chen Te-Ping, who is trying to sort through these conflicting accounts of what happened and how the boats crashed. I think it's a much needed story, since the government clearly isn't in any rush to tell the public what they know.

She's interested in talking to anyone who saw the crash or was on one of the boats. Did they slow down or swerve? Did the Sea Smooth really stop for five minutes like SCMP is reporting now? Things like that, as opposed to the 'how do you feel' stuff.

Contact info:
+852 2831 2538
te-ping.chen at wsj dot com

Author:  Lamma-Gung [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:20 pm ]
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Trey Menefee wrote:
She's interested in talking to anyone who saw the crash or was on one of the boats.

Anyone who saw the crash or was on one of the boats should definitely also call the Marine Police hotline above to tell their story, 9188 2710.

The police will also set up a table at the YSW ferry pier to gather more first-hand witnesses for the investigations. Please give them a short statement if you're a witness. It's the best way to consolidate the conflicting accounts and find out the true facts. It's their job. The media might assist, but won't follow through patiently and long-term to get to the whole picture.

Giving a statement to the police will help much more to find out what exactly happened than just one more quick sound bite the media might quote out of context. One reporter was actually asking me for "a sound bite", more interested in getting a few quick remarks than researching the actual facts which will take time and as many witnesses as possible.

Author:  Marc Antony [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 5:25 pm ]
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I've been told the police have set up a desk at YSW ferry pier to take statements/details from witnesses.

Author:  ilanmangi [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:21 pm ]
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I'm really starting to think its possible that the captain was distracted by the crew leaving the wheelhouse as they do when approaching Lamma... Or even something as simple as sending a text.

Author:  草民 [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:32 pm ]
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It's important to note that the police are conducting a criminal investigation in connection with their arrest of seven crew members (three from Lamma IV and four from Sea Smooth) on charges of criminal negligence. In this sense, the purpose of their investigation is not to arrive at the truth per se, but to find evidence with which to prosecute (or conversely to find that there is insufficient evidence to prosecute, though this is less likely since they have already arrested the suspects).

It is the investigation that the HK government has promised which will have as its objective to find out the truth, presumably in its larger dimensions, but details of that investigation, its scope and remit are yet to be released.

The reason I emphasize the distinction is that I am quite ambivalent about the police investigation. It may very well be that the crew members were criminally negligent according to the legal definition. But I suspect that there are many and various levels of responsibility involving perhaps also HKKF, HK Electric and the HK Government. The police will almost certainly not investigate these angles since none of these entities are suspected of having committed a crime. The way the police have so quickly arrested the crew members suggests political influence, and there have been a number of occasions in recent years in which it appeared that police actions had a strong political motivation (such as arrests of demonstrators on numerous occasions leading to long criminal prosecutions that result in acquittal-- a form of judicial persecution--, the confiscation of the Goddess of Democracy statues, the fining of the IDAHO event last year because there was dancing without a "public entertainment" license). And I must say, whether or not the crew members were at fault, I sympathize with them. It is hard to imagine that they deliberately caused the crash, and no one is claiming that either. So I am really of two minds as to whether or not to give the police the rope to hang them with.

Author:  Trey Menefee [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:26 pm ]
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@Lamma-Gung I've spoken to a few reporters so too. Te-ping is the only one who seemed genuinely interested in trying to figure out what happened rather than getting a few soundbites (CNN, for instance, just wanted to know if I felt safe taking the ferries). We spent time comparing notes, sources, and stories. I can usually tell the quality of someone's work by their questions.

This is potentially the story a lot of us are waiting for: what's the best of what we know to date; what's likely true and what isn't. It's a lot better than what SCMP did today where they wrote an entire story on one account that seemed to contradict what Caomin/草民 and others have said here.

Two things I learned from her in our conversation
- apparently Lamma IV passengers report that the lights onboard were "dimmed" at the time of the collision
- the government was the one who originally told the press that a pleasure boat hit a tug

Author:  Serradura [ Fri Oct 05, 2012 11:36 pm ]
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Thank you to Lamma-Gung for reminding people of what the Hong Kong Electric workers do every day for the people of Hong Kong - very well said.

Feeling disconnected or numb is part of the process. Everyone in HK is connected to the harbour and the sea and the water - it's why HK is here - whether they acknowledge it or not. And everyone on HK island relies on the workers at HKEC to do anything.

Who hasn't stepped on a junk, sampan or ferry in calm or busy waters/T8 and wondered if it was safe? And just thought - hell they must know what they are doing.

For many people in Hong Kong a ferry ride is a treat, a holiday outing, but for us who live on Lamma it is as Kevin Voigt said "the most delightful commute in the world".

Author:  草民 [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 8:53 am ]
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HK Electric has setup a HSBC account 004-808-6-000927 for donations for the victims.

And below is a Mingpao article that has given some important information about HKKF ferry working conditions. The captain on that day has been working for 10 hours when the accident happened. And on a typical day, the captain starts work at 6:20am with the first ferry and ends his day with the last ferry at 12:30am!! I'm alarmed by this! But it seems that this hasn't generated as much attention in HK press, maybe because everyone is used to long working hours. But this surely has to change. Since there is no co-pilot system, how could we expect a person to be fully alert for 18 hours straight??? The HKKF management stressed that the pilot wasn't working "overtime"--well, if you don't consider working 10+ hour of work overtime...

Original article:

Author:  ilanmangi [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 10:04 am ]
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It's all about the money

Cutting corners, pushing the limits all for the precious Dollar

Doesn't seem like a good idea now does it HKKF?

Now your dollars will go into the sea

Author:  Insomniac [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:16 am ]
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In the Police notice, which vessel is the 'Hoi Tai'?
Also, has someone passed on the account number to Li ka-shing?

Author:  Alan [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 11:30 am ]
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Insomniac wrote:
In the Police notice, which vessel is the 'Hoi Tai'?

Chinese name of HKKF ferry Sea Smooth

Author:  草民 [ Sat Oct 06, 2012 12:18 pm ]
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In response to an above post, the company that owns HK Electric (and is itself owned primarily by Victor Li, son of Li-Ka Shing) says it has set aside HKD200,000 for the relatives of each person who died. In addition to that, the Li Ka-Shing Foundation has pledged HKD30 million to victims. Exactly how that money will be divided up is unclear, and the extent to which the seriously injured will be eligible is also unclear.

That amount of money is certainly a good start, and it may help to tide the families over until issues of compensation can be sorted out, something that will probably take a long time because there is certain to be disputes regarding liability, which in turn will be related to the government inquiry.

Still, many families have lost their main breadwinners while families of seriously injured will probably have some medical expenses, and it could be the case that for the families to receive fair and adequate compensation, they will need funds for legal expenses too.

I do not know how the HK Electric fund plans to divide up donations amongst the victims, and that is something to check into, but I do think that if many people donated small amounts, that would not only be a fine gesture but could help the families to be financially secure.

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