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Old March 14th, 2006, 02:06 AM   #1361
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Merger plan is still on track, says minister
14 March 2006
South China Morning Post

The unprecedented feud among the KCRC's top management has added uncertainty to the planned merger with the MTR Corporation, but the plan remains on track, the transport minister said yesterday.

Sarah Liao Sau-tung, Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works, said merger talks between the government and the MTR on the merger plan were proceeding despite the row between the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation's acting chief executive, Samuel Lai Man-hay, and non-executive chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun, who announced his resignation on Sunday.

The management crisis stems from a complaint letter sent by Mr Lai with the support of senior managers and half of about 5,900 staff members last Thursday to the KCRC board. It accused Mr Tien of questioning staff professionalism and of damaging morale.

The management crisis "will add uncertainty but it won't derail the merger plan", Dr Liao said yesterday. She said a written complaint against a KCRC senior manager on such a large scale was unprecedented.

"It is a dispute between the chairman and CEO; any senior management dispute should be resolved sensibly."

Sources close to the government said the Treasury Bureau and MTR aimed to finalise terms of the planned merger by the end of the month after spending 18 months in discussions.

While market watchers did not believe the management feud would disrupt the pace of the merger procedure, some questioned the prospect of having senior KCRC managers on the merged organisation. "At the end of the day, the merger is about the KCRC's valuation, which is reflected in a number of factors such as quality of rail and property assets and a fare-setting mechanism," a research director for a European brokerage said. "The management row will not only doom the prospects of the remaining KCRC senior managers but also entrench the MTR's leading role in the merged entity."

A consultant on public transport policy in Hong Kong said the merged entity would not need two sets of senior management, which meant that some top managers at the MTR or KCRC would have to leave.
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Old March 14th, 2006, 05:43 AM   #1362
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By HV7025 from a Hong Kong transport forum :



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Old March 14th, 2006, 08:36 AM   #1363
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From news.gov.hk:
KCRC board asked to resolve discord
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Old March 14th, 2006, 06:32 PM   #1364
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RTHK news:
KCRC board reached consensus on management row
2006-03-15 HKT 00:07


The managing board of the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation has reached a consensus on the dispute between its chairman and acting-chief executive. The Transport Secretary, Sarah Liao, declined to elaborate, except to say that details would be worked out. And the proposal would be forwarded to the Chief Executive, Donald Tsang. The board was discussing the resignation of the KCRC's chairman, Michael Tien, following criticism of his management style by the acting-chief executive, Samuel Lai.
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Old March 14th, 2006, 09:14 PM   #1365
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excellent photos, thank you!
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Old March 15th, 2006, 02:14 AM   #1366
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Transcript of SETW standup briefing on KCRC
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Government Press Release

Following is a transcript of the meet-the-media session by the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Dr Sarah Liao, after attending KCRC Managing Board meeting this evening (March 14):


SETW: Today we have a special KCRC Board meeting. Members have unanimously agreed that we must maintain high level of transparency and accountability within the company. And more importantly, we must maintain a safe and efficient railway service for the public. For corporate governance, we maintain that it is important to have a separate mode for the Chairman and the CEO. Because it has the check and balance effect in any large corporation. As far as the dispute or disagreement between the Chairman and CEO, this is not something unusual, it happens a lot of time in corporations. The important thing is for the two personalities to work out solution, compromise and accommodate each other's difference. We have separately met with the Chairman and CEO today and heard their case on the recent dispute that is being publicised widely. The Managing Board has come up with a conclusion and basically we have an in-principle consensus on the issue. And we would work out the details as soon as possible and report back to the Chief Executive.

Reporter: Do you think the crisis has now been resolved?

SETW: As I said the dispute between Chairman and CEO is not something unusual. So I do not consider it as a crisis in that sense. As long as the two are willing to work together, it is a solution.
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Old March 15th, 2006, 10:38 AM   #1367
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Great News!
From news.gov.hk:
Michael Tien remains KCRC chairman
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Old March 16th, 2006, 05:02 AM   #1368
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KCRC's bosses facing disciplinary inquiry
Railway managers say they 'were just expressing views' over leadership dispute

16 March 2006
South China Morning Post

An inquiry is under way into whether disciplinary action should be taken against the senior management team who took leave to show support for acting KCRC chief Samuel Lai Man-hay on Tuesday.

But KCRC general manager Michael Lai Kai-hin, spokesman for the 20 senior managers who showed up at the media briefing on Tuesday, said he was not worried about disciplinary action, although he had not considered what Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen meant by saying that the dispute had raised "very serious ... personal and disciplinary issues" that should be investigated.

"I don't think there is a discipline issue," Mr Michael Lai said. "We were just expressing our views for the good of the corporation. I think we should all look forward. We shouldn't waste time on what has already happened," Mr Lai said.

Earlier, at Tuesday's briefing, he commented that chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun's resignation could be a possible resolution for the management crisis, minutes before the managing board met to discuss the KCRC leadership dispute. A government source described Mr Lai's tactic as "low" and said the government was dissatisfied about their group's action. "You people are senior mangers, the board is trying to resolve the issue, and you guys staged a showdown in the next room trying to influence the board," the source said.

Grace Lam Wong Pik-har, public affairs senior manager, said all 20 participants at the briefing had obtained permission from the directors, and that their absence had not affected their normal duties.

"Managers have left their offices for longer periods due to conferences and training sessions; they referred their work to their subordinates and they took only half-days off."

But the government source said an inquiry would be launched to see whether anyone was responsible for inciting and encouraging actions that might have led to a disruption of services. "Even lifeguards cannot just leave their positions like that." Mr Tien said no one would be considered in breach of professional conduct for expressing opinions.

But major political parties condemned the senior manager's show of support for Mr Samuel Lai, and vowed to examine whether this warranted disciplinary action.

Democrats legislator Andrew Cheng Kar-foo, Legco transport panel vice-chairman, also called for tough punishment and an inquiry into Michael Lai. "I dare not say Mr [Michael] Lai has integrity problems," Mr Cheng said. "But surely the board should look into his conduct? I don't think the managers would stage such a campaign without his nod."

DAB vice-chairman and Legco transport panel chairman Lau Kong-wah said the board should give a full account on whether the managers had breached any rules.

"Although they have the right to express views, I think they have done the inappropriate thing in an inappropriate place at the inappropriate moment.
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Old March 16th, 2006, 05:08 AM   #1369
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Hong Kong's MTR Corp Feb passengers 66.00 mln vs 72.90 mln
15 March 2006

HONG KONG (XFN-ASIA) - MTR Corp Ltd said it carried 66.00 mln passengers in February, down from 72.90 mln in December.

On an average weekday basis, MTR Corp carried 2.45 mln in February, down from 2.58 in January, according to figures published on the company's website.

The February figure for the MTR's average weekday passenger traffic covers the Tsuen Wan, Island, Kwun Tong, Tung Chung and Tseung Kwan O lines, according to the data.

Total monthly patronage of the MTR and Airport Express lines for February rose 4.88 pct year-on-year, but no comparative figures were given.

As for month-on-month figures, the website said the Airport Express carried 676,000 passengers in February, down from 771,000 in January.

On an average daily basis, the Airport Express carried 24,100 people in February, against 24,900 in the preceding month.
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Old March 16th, 2006, 12:48 PM   #1370
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A series news from RTHK:
KCRC's acting chief executive resigns 2006-03-16 HKT 14:49

The Acting Chief Executive of the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, Samuel Lai, has resigned. And he's been replaced by the former secretary for works, James Blake, who also held a senior position in the corporation for several years. The KCRC has also decided to sack its general manager, Michael Lai, and issue written warnings to 19 other senior managers for giving a media briefing on Tuesday to express support for Samuel Lai. The acting chief executive spoke about why he was stepping down.


Former Secretary for Works, James Blake, appointed as KCRC chief executive 2006-03-16 HKT 15:40

In a day of turmoil at the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation, the Acting Chief Executive, Samuel Lai, has resigned. He's been replaced by the former secretary for works, James Blake, who also held a senior position in the corporation for several years. The KCRC has also sacked its general manager, Michael Lai, and has issued written warnings to 19 other senior managers for giving a media briefing on Tuesday to express support for Samuel Lai.


James Blake to take over as KCRC chief executive
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Old March 17th, 2006, 01:52 AM   #1371
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February isnt a busy month, not compared to Dec/Jan with all the holidays.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 02:39 AM   #1372
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Merger plan may be in place in 2 months
KCRC workers worried departure of acting chief executive will affect their re-employment prospects
17 March 2006
South China Morning Post

The long-awaited plan to merge the two rail companies could be in the works within two months, the transport chief said yesterday.

Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao Sau-tung said the recent turmoil and management reshuffle at the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation would have an impact on the plan and there was an urgent need to accelerate merger talks.

"The merger talks are in the final stages and I am hopeful that we can have the plan in place in two months' time," she said.

Her remarks came amid heightened fears among KCRC staff of more turmoil after the merger, given the departure of acting chief executive Samuel Lai Man-hay, a popular leader backed by both managerial and frontline staff.

Discussions have been going on for the last two years on how the two rail operators should be merged. The KCRC is wholly owned by the government, which is also the majority shareholder of the MTR Corp.

Among the main concerns are staff redundancies that would likely result from a merger even though Ms Liao has stressed that no frontline employees would be laid off.

KCRC chairman Michael Tien Puk-sun has also previously stated that the merger really takes place at the management level. He said that, as the two companies have different signalling systems, technical staff cannot be cut. This leaves open the prospect of doing away with administrative employees.

KCR Workers' Union chairman Ko Pak-kwan feared that the departure of Mr Lai, who has been with the company since 1983, would affect the re-employment prospects of frontline staff after the merger.

"Mr Lai has been the one to defend our interests in negotiating the merger. I am afraid the successor may not have as clear a picture as Mr Lai," Mr Ko said.

Edmund Leung Kwong-ho, chairman of the independent panel which investigated the fractures in components of East Rail trains, said it was a pity Mr Lai had to leave.

"He is known as a very composed, reasonable man and a very competent leader. He also has vision. I believe he would have been able to contribute a lot more if he stayed on."

Mr Leung, who has known Mr Lai for a long time, said he was a man who thought before he acted. He said Mr Lai must have had his reasons for writing to the managing board complaining about Mr Tien's management style, which triggered the dramatic events afterwards.

Hong Kong Institute of Directors chairman Herbert Hui Ho-ming said a merger did not necessarily mean having to integrate the companies' respective operations. He said a holding company could be created with both the MTR Corp and the KCRC as individual subsidiaries, with two separate chairmen and chief executives.
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Old March 17th, 2006, 07:25 AM   #1373
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RTHK news:
Acting CE of KCRC resigns - James Blake to replace him 2006-03-17 HKT 00:14

In a day of turmoil at the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation, the Acting Chief Executive, Samuel Lai, has resigned. He's been replaced by the former secretary for works, James Blake, who also held a senior position in the corporation for several years. The KCRC has also sacked its general manager, Michael Lai, and has issued written warnings to 19 other senior managers for giving a media briefing on Tuesday to express support for Samuel Lai.


Mixed reaction to appointment of James Blake to KCRC post 2006-03-17 HKT 03:17

There's been a mixed reaction from lawmakers to the news that a former top government official, James Blake, has been invited to take over as Acting Chief Executive of the Kowloon Canton Railway Corporation following the abrupt resignation of Samuel Lai. The Democratic Party's spokesman on transport affairs, Andrew Cheng, said he had doubts whether Mr Blake would be able to manage the KCRC effectively. He said the Chief Executive should ask Samuel Lai to retract his resignation in the interests of stability.
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Old March 18th, 2006, 09:27 AM   #1374
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New KCRC chief backs 'brave' Tien's drive for transparency
18 March 2006
South China Morning Post

The incoming chief executive of the KCRC, James Blake, said yesterday he shared the views of the rail operator's chairman and understood his "drive for transparency and to attain the best possible in our services to the public".

Mr Blake described Michael Tien Puk-sun as brave and said he had shown himself a quick learner when he took over in 2002 at a "bad time" for the government-owned corporation - with its West Rail project under the shadow of a contractual blunder that added $100 million to the cost of its signalling.

The man picked to replace Samuel Lai Man-hay after a week of management chaos and a show of dissent by top managers also defended his own role in that blunder.

Mr Blake, who apologised at the time for not having alerted the managing board soon enough about delays by signalling contractor Siemens, said: "The firm hired to investigate the matter confirmed the expenditure at that time was value for money."

He said there had been thorough discussion by the board over the practice of transparency and he would adhere to the practice.

Hung Wing-tat, an associate professor of civil and structural engineering at Polytechnic University, warned Mr Blake's appointment was unlikely to achieve much. "What can he do to tackle the problems? He really is just a caretaker."

Mr Blake took issue with that assessment. "There can be nothing of a caretaker role in any CEO position. You have to take the responsibility and execute the position."

He did not think the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation had been put at a disadvantage with regard to its possible merger with the MTR Corporation by the events of the past nine days, which saw Mr Tien table his resignation, then withdraw it, only for Mr Lai to quit.

"The terms of the merger are still to be announced, but in a technical sense we are looking at two corporations each with their own technical strength and expertise which will be of great advantage to Hong Kong and also perhaps {hellip} to overseas countries" and the mainland in particular, he said.
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Old March 19th, 2006, 11:53 AM   #1375
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KCRC Press Release:
KCRC receives 11 tenders for Tai Wai Maintenance Centre property development project
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Old March 20th, 2006, 08:17 AM   #1376
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From news.gov.hk:
Rail merger talks in final stage: Fred Ma
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Old March 20th, 2006, 06:28 PM   #1377
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It looks like despite the corporate shuffling at KCR, the merger with the MTR might clear out those ranks in a few years anyway.
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Old March 21st, 2006, 06:33 PM   #1378
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From news.gov.hk:
New KCRC chief to assume office
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Old March 23rd, 2006, 05:55 AM   #1379
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Decline in passengers falling on to tracks
Chester Yung and Wendy Leung
Hong Kong Standard
Thursday, 23 March, 2006

The number of passengers falling on to MTR railway lines, deliberately or accidentally, has dropped dramatically since 1997, Secretary for Environment, Transport and Works Sarah Liao told the Legislative Council Wednesday.

On the other hand, similar incidents involving the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation have increased over the same period, she said.

Liao made the statements in a written reply to a question from legislator Audrey Eu regarding the number of passengers falling on to the railway tracks since 1997.

Liao said the number of incidents involving the KCRC line rose steadily from 18 in 1997 to 32 in 2005. On the other hand, the number of incidents at MTR stations and elsewhere decreased dramatically from 83 cases in 1997 to 16 cases in 2005.

Liao said the installation of platform screen doors, first introduced in 1998, might have contributed to the drop.

Noting that at least 15 percent of all incidents are caused by suicide attempts, Liao said the KCRC is working with the University of Hong Kong to develop a suicide prevention training program for frontline staff with a view to developing their skills in suicide prevention and intervention. The program is expected to commence in May.

Meanwhile, KCRC's new chief executive says his first task on the job is to meet staff unions to settle the troubles of the past two weeks.

James Blake, who was appointed within 24 hours of the resignation of his predecessor Samuel Lai, said his first day at work made him feel "almost like coming home," referring to his earlier seven years' of service at KCRC.

A chartered engineer, Blake served as the government's secretary of works from 1991 to 1995 before moving to KCRC in 1997.

To boost staff morale and return the company to stability, Blake promised to meet unions and listen to staff opinions tomorrow.

KCRC Workers' Union chairman Ko Pak-kwun hopes the meeting will help establish better communication channels with management. The union also hopes to discuss annual pay rises.

KCR Operating Staff Association chairman Rainbow Lam said members have worries and concerns about the company. "The trouble came out of misunderstanding. I will express staff concerns that I have received from their e-mails in these past days," Lam said.
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Old March 24th, 2006, 02:42 AM   #1380
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East Rail services hit by 3 disruptions
Wendy Leung
24 March 2006
Hong Kong Standard

In the wake of its management ructions last week, probably the last thing the embattled Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation needed was three separate disruptions to services on its busy East Rail network Thursday.

In the most serious incident, services were halted when a 19-year-old Indonesian tourist was found walking along the tracks between Hung Hom and Tsim Sha Tsui East stations. He was led to safety by railway staff and handed over to the police for questioning.

East Rail services were disrupted twice earlier in the day _ first by problems with overhead cables, and later by a defect on a train.

Rival rail operator, MTR Corp, did not escape the day unscathed either when commuters had to pry open the platform screen doors at Quarry Bay station at about 6am after they failed to open.

The disruptions immediately drew fire from Legislative Council transport panel chairman Lau Kong-wah, who described the incidents as unacceptable.

``It's rare for the KCRC to have three incidents in a day,'' he said. ``Following last week's management troubles, some staff complained to us their morale was being affected.''

Lau said the KCRC system should be examined and repaired at once.

At about 11am, East Rail services were affected for about 30 minutes due to an overhead line fault at University station. Train frequency was reduced from every five minutes to every 20 minutes, according to KCRC spokeswoman Ida Leung.

Less than two hours later, services were again interrupted when a train had to slow down at Sheung Shui station on its way to a reserve platform at Tai Po after its battery malfunctioned.

Journey times between Lo Wu and Tsim Sha Tsui East took eight minutes longer than usual. Services returned to normal about half an hour later.

Leung said the company is investigating the incidents.

Trains running between Tsim Sha Tsui East and Hung Hom came to a sudden halt when the Indonesian man was found wandering along the tracks between the two stations.

Platform staff had to apply the stop button which halted trains in the vicinity. ``The tourist had boarded the train at Lo Wu and intended to go to Tsim Sha Tsui East, but got off at Hung Hom, probably by mistake,'' a police spokesman said.

The man was not injured but received a verbal warning.

The trespass came one day after transport chief Sarah Liao disclosed that the number of passengers falling on to railway tracks rose steadily from 18 in 1997 to 32 last year. But the number of incidents on the MTR lines declined dramatically _ from 83 cases in 1997 to 16 cases last year in 2005, mainly due to the installation of platform screen doors that were first introduced in 1998.

MTRC public relations manager Helen Cheung attributed the early morning incident at Quarry Bay station to ``a misunderstanding between the train driver and control room staff.''

Meanwhile, new KCRC chief executive James Blake is due to meet staff union leaders today and listen to the views of employees in an attempt to boost staff morale affected by the management squabbles.
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