A beleaguered former MTR Corporation projects director has announced he will step down as president of the Hong Kong Institution of Engineers, ending weeks of uncertainty over his role.
Philco Wong Nai-keung, who is with his family in the United States, informed the professional body at midnight on Tuesday he would resign to keep the institution’s council “united and harmonious,” according to an internal email the Post has obtained.
Former president of the institution Peter Wong said the council would seek to have its members vote to approve the resignation and nominate senior vice-president Ringo Yu Shek-man to succeed Philco Wong by noon on Wednesday.
Yu, 60, is the founder of Fraser Construction Co, which specialises in civil engineering work in Hong Kong. The Post has contacted Yu.
The resignation marked an end to weeks of infighting at the institution, which received 47 messages demanding Wong go and 60 messages of support for him by August 17.
“It is a lose-lose situation,” engineer Albert Lai Kwong-tak said of the exiting president and the professional body. “As a result, the public’s perception of the engineering sector is worse. The institution needs to restore public confidence and review the council’s structure.”
Ten days earlier, Wong and three other general managers of Hong Kong’s most costly rail project, the HK$97.1 billion (US$12.3 billion) Sha Tin to Central rail link, resigned when the government discovered irregularities and lost faith in the senior management. MTR CEO Lincoln Leong Kwok-kuen announcing he would retire prematurely.
The exodus came after the corporation submitted a false report to the government concealing key facts and unapproved changes in the design for a diaphragm wall on a platform under construction at Hung Hom station – a project that was also plagued by the use of substandard steel bars and the disappearance of 2,000 couplers that connected those bars. Police are now investigating.
In the wake of the scandal, more than 100 engineers signed a petition calling for Philco Wong to relinquish his presidency at the institution.
Wong first offered his resignation from the institution last week, but asked the council members to vote on it. On Monday, the results saw two-thirds of those taking part – 24 out of 38 – gave him a vote of confidence, but nine called for his resignation and five abstained.
Wong said he “heard some discord within the council” over whether he should remain in office.
The institution had more than 34,000 members in 2017, with its council made up of about 40.