Limits on who will ride inaugural express train

Local | Phoenix Un 13 Sep 2018

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has invited a limited number of legislators and Executive Council members to the launch ceremony of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link on September 22.

That is a day before Express Rail scheduled services commence.

Following the ceremony at 10am the Lam party will head off for a round trip between West Kowloon and Guangzhou South.

Among those who will be along for the ride are pro-Beijing legislators including Wong Kwok-kin and Michael Tien Puk-sun, who confirmed they received an invitation from Lam.

The invitation letter said that those attending should be dressed formally and reminded them to take along their travel documents.

There was also a firm nudge for people to be punctual for the ceremony and then the train ride: they should be at the West Kowloon terminal by 8.45am.

Lam will have Guangdong governor Ma Qingrui alongside her to host the launch ceremony on the B1 level of the terminal.

Once that is over the party will head to the B4 level to board the express train for the ride to Guangzhou South and then take a return trip to West Kowloon.

While those arrangements sounded good to invitees, some pan-democrat legislators did not view the plans so kindly because they have not received invitations.

Among those feeling miffed was Co-location Concern Group convener Tanya Chan, the Labour Party's Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung and the Professionals Guild's Charles Mok.

Chan admitted she was disappointed at being snubbed, saying that those who put the invitation list together "are really thin-skinned."

Cheung said it was disrespectful to the Legislative Council if only pro-establishment lawmakers were invited.

"Since the Express Rail is in Hong Kong the government should invite all legislators," he said. "It's a separate issue on whether we agree to go."

But Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said his team was still communicating with different parties, and "regarding the guest invitations for the launch ceremony we're handling that according to the groups."

He did not answer, however, on whether members from the National's People Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference had been invited to the ceremony.

He went on to reject claims that mainland authorities will be able to access the personal data of people using the free WiFi at the West Kowloon terminal.

Such speculation came after some citizens found that in a disclaimer from the service provider that it could pass their information to mainland authorities.

Answering that, Chan said: "All personal information of citizens who connect to the WiFi will not be transferred to anybody as long as they are in the Hong Kong port area, and even as long as the train hasn't left Hong Kong."

As he saw it, the MTR Corp Ltd had failed to convey the WiFi message clearly.

Chan also said the ticket-selling process was smoother after two days of being in service. He also urged the MTRCL to launch group tickets as soon as possible.

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