Jumbo should not have been towed to the open ocean

Jumbo Floating Restaurant should not have been towed to the open ocean, a marine expert said, as he added that transporting by semi-submersible ship may not be feasible either.

The restaurant, which was towed away from Hong Kong last week, capsized in the South China Sea on Sunday due to extreme weather conditions.

A veteran member of the Hong Kong Institute of Marine Technology Lee Kin-kwong said the restaurant was a wharf boat, which had no power itself. However, its design should be able to generate electricity, and should also be equipped with water pumps that can automatically sense and drain the water.

Lee said if these pumps were in operation and there were people on board when it was towed, the boat may be able to avoid sinking.

Instead, if all the equipment on board were turned off and it was towed away as a "dead boat", it may end up turning over. He added that once an accident happens, the tugboat will have to abandon the floating boat for its safety.

As for Jumbo Group's Tai Pak Floating Restaurant, which was shipped to the Philippines in 1999 with a semi-submersible transport ship, Lee said the larger size of Jumbo Restaurant may result in expensive transportation fees and not that feasible.

Lawmaker Tik Chi-yuen said it took less than two weeks from the departure of the boat to capsize, describing the incident as intriguing and shocking.

He said the sinking of Jumbo hit the public's confidence in the government. He has raised an urgent question on the incident at tomorrow's LegCo meeting, asking the government to give an account of the case.

He also asked the government to inform whether the Marine Department know the destination and route of Jumbo when permitting it to leave Hong Kong, and whether the government would launch an in-depth investigation into the incident.

Tik said many interested parties have given proposals in the past two weeks, including funding the initial conservation of Jumbo Floating Restaurant, hoping that the government and the Ocean Park would conserve the landmark of Hong Kong following the original Invigorating Island South project.

Therefore, he was also concerned about the reason why the government refused to take any of the proposals.

In addition, he asked whether the Observatory will provide the weather, hydrographic conditions and comprehensive data of the South China Sea on June 18 for analysis by the public and experts.

He would also like to know whether the government will make any remedial proposals, including but not limited to salvage and restoration.