Transport minister defends late-night news release on Hong Kong-Macau bridge …
Transport minister Anthony Cheung Bing-leung has defended a late-night news release about the bridge linking the city with Zhuhai and Macau, saying the government did not intend to avoid media inquiries but rather wanted to clarify reports about delays.
The controversy centres on an announcement by the Highways Department about a delay in the completion of border facilities made at 11pm on Wednesday night. The government has come under fire for avoiding media inquiries over such an important issue.
READ MORE: Bridge delayed: Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau link meant to slash travel time will miss 2016 deadline
Cheung said the department had no intention to keep the media in the dark, but it saw an urgent need to quell online rumours saying the project would face further delays.
“The Highways Department was aware of the online reports, in which the bridge was said to be facing delays until 2021. Some media were following up the issue,” Cheung said. “The department saw a need to clarify to the public as soon as possible, as information circulates on the internet 24 hours a day.”
In the statement issued on Wednesday, the department said the construction of the Hong Kong section of the 42km bridge project would miss its 2016 deadline by a year, because of many technical challenges during the design and construction stages.
The Hong Kong Journalists Association said it would complain to the ombudsman over the late-night news release as most print-media deadlines had already passed, leaving them no time to handle such important information.
Cheung said undersecretary Yau Shing-mu and Director of Highways Peter Lau Ka-keung had arranged press conferences on the following two days to update the media on the issue.
When asked if the government was confident that the bridge could open by the end of 2017, Cheung said: “I cannot answer this question for other governments” as the mainland and Macau administrations were also involved.
The government will seek approval at a Legislative Council meeting on Tuesday for an extra HK$5.46 billion to build immigration and customs facilities on an artificial island off Hong Kong International Airport, on top of HK$30.4 billion already secured.