Pay troubles hit small M+ firms

Local | Phoenix Un 2 Nov 2018

Seven small firms involved in the construction of the M+ museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District claim they are owed HK$70 million, even though the arts hub's management has been paying some companies directly to keep the project running.

Over the summer, the district authority revealed it had been forced to cancel a HK$5.9 billion contract with Hsin Chong Construction, the firm tasked with building the museum, as it was going through financial difficulties.

The authority has since been paying some subcontractors on its own so that the construction of M+ could continue.

But some of the Hsin Chong subcontractors sought help from Civic Party legislators Tanya Chan and Jeremy Tam Man-ho, saying that at least seven subcontractors are owed a total of HK$70 million, and neither Hsin Chong nor the authority has paid them.

Li Hiu-sing, a representative of one of the subcontractors - Li Wai Yam Cleaning Engineering - said the company was owed HK$30 million.

Li said the authority was only willing to pay HK$5.8 million.

"The authority wanted us to accept the money, but we have to sign a document that we will not pursue Hsin Chong and the authority any more," Li said. "We won't accept it because the amount they owe us is way over."

At Golden On Construction, a man surnamed Lau said his company did surveying work at the construction site, but Hsin Chong did not pay in full, which resulted in Lau having difficulty paying his workers.

Lau was owed HK$12.8 million, but said "the authority was willing to pay us about HK$3 million. They said the money was just a consolation fee for us."

Chan criticized the authority for bullying smaller companies, and said it was unacceptable to pay consolation fees.

"They can't pay a little and tell subcontractors not to pursue them," she said. "The Legislative Council allocated a budget to the authority for the construction process, but they don't make proper payments to subcontractors."

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