On Monday this week, The China National Day public holiday in Hong Kong, I boarded a smart power cruiser at Pier 9 in Central, motored around Victoria Harbour, enjoyed dinner and drinks with some 30 friends and later “oohed and aahed” at the magnificent fireworks display reflected in the harbour, against the back drop of Hong Kong’s tall glass-clad buildings. While I was enjoying my evening, a horrific scene was playing out on the other side of the harbour. 39 innocent people lost their lives on an evening which was meant for celebration. This is totally unacceptable and I say “What If?”.
What if the marine department was as tightly controlled as the roads department? What if boatsmen had to go through more stringent testing? What if the Hong Kong Harbour had a network of volunteers on call to come quickly to the rescue of boats that go down? As I’m typing these questions I’m unfortunately already playing devil’s advocate. The problem here is that the two crews involved with this accident were on “commercial vessels” and they are strictly controlled by the Marine Department and have to be retested regularly. So how could something so tragic, happen? Also, by using the word “volunteers” it suggests a ‘happy go lucky’ bunch of people against whom the Marine Police and the Marine Department would say that they are the “professionals” and thus know better’. However, the Fire Services Department allow ‘the St Johns Ambulances’ to co-exist with them in the support of caring for the sick and injured, so why can’t we have another supporting service?
When I arrived in Hong Kong 3 months ago, I met Malcolm Brocklebank who has lived in Hong Kong for 31 years. He is a yacht club member and weathered sailor and he’s been asking many of the same questions over the past few years. He has approached numerous organisations for support, with little interest. His plan is solid and all it requires is funding. So what will it take, to amend a few regulations, to implement a more effective testing system and a more extensive marine safety network across Hong Kong waters. I certainly hope not another 39 lives.
So there’s already plan in place which is not only beneficial to boat and pleasure craft owners and the safety of everyone who uses the waterways in Hong Kong! Surely this should be music to the ears of boat and pleasure craft owners and marine insurance companies?
Let’s not wait for another disaster to kick up a stink in what should be ‘Xianggang’. Let’s listen to reason and allow and support the implementation of relatively low cost activities that will definitely have a high impact in the years to come!
For more information about Malcolm’s plan to make Hong Kong waters safer, please contact him via his linked-in page.