Fare-sore MTR boss gripes about 'city of resentment'

Local | Charlotte luo 8 Apr 2019

Fares on the MTR have increased about four times over the last 40 years - a period during which property prices have surged up to 100 times.

That argument was advanced by MTR Corp chairman Frederick Ma Si-hang at a media gathering.

He also said he felt wronged by "fake news" as he sounded off by saying it has been 40 years since the first MTR line opened but that Hong Kong had in that time changed from being "a go-getting city" to "a city of resentment."

When he started working 46 years ago, Ma said, he made HK$1,600 a month. A downtown apartment sold then for about HK$200 per square foot.

But now, salaries have risen about 10 times while housing prices have skyrocketed 50 to 100 times.

Property prices are not the only thing that has been affected, he went on, saying a meal in Central costs 30 times more than before.

Yet the increase in MTR fares was about four times compared to 40 years ago - less than inflation.

The fare between Kowloon Bay and Kwun Tong cost HK$1 in 1979 compared with HK$4.60 for adult Octopus card users now, Ma said.

And the reason so many people complain about MTR fares, he added, is because it is a government company.

Ma also said he resents fake news, citing as an example a visit by him to Beijing for a meeting after two trains collided last month. But there was a report claiming he went to play golf in Shanghai.

Ma also said he used "OK" to describe the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link, but some reports had him using it when talking about the Sha Tin to Central Link.

But suing media over fake news would be a waste of money and ruin his health, Ma said, so he laughs it off.

Ma admitted that controversies surrounding the Sha Tin to Central Link tarnished the MTRC's "gold painted signboard," but he believes the rail operator will overcome all difficulties.

But some people responded by expressing anger toward him.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet Ngor "should be aware the longer this guy stays the angrier Hongkongers will be," Facebook user CW Lui wrote. "He is [an] irresponsible salesman."

Another user, Wanki Lo, said housing prices dropped 10 times during the SARS outbreak in 2003 but MTR fares have never fallen.

And Raymond Yu Chun-fai said that the MTRC "built housing to make a profit. And each year the MTR has accidents."

Rex Auyeung Pak-kuen will succeed Ma as MTRC chairman on July 1.

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