The Tai Po bus disaster left 19 dead: unions later slammed officials in charge, including Assistant Commissioner Rachel Kwan, as being unresponsive to their safety complaints

Senior transport official Rachel Kwan Chui-lan left government in 2018 and now works as a Deputy Director at KMB

A top transport official responsible for renegotiating KMB’s franchise in 2017 and investigating KMB’s deadly Tai Po bus crash in 2018 has taken a senior role at KMB two years after leaving her government post.

Rachel Kwan Chui-lan was Assistant Commissioner, Bus & Railway, Transport Department (TD), reporting to the Deputy Commissioner for Transport Services and Management, and regularly appeared in LegCo and other panels as the government’s point person on bus franchise renegotiations. Kwan left government in 2018.

On 4 January 2021, KMB announced Kwan as its new Deputy Director of Traffic Services (Bus Services).

As well as working on KMB’s 10-year franchise renewal in 2017, Kwan had been a point person on union relationships during the Independent Review Committee (IRC) investigations begun following the Tai Po disaster.

When the IRC asked then-Transport Commissioner Mable Chan what prompted three safety meetings with unions in October 2016, March 2017 and July 2017, Chan deferred to Kwan, who said TD would meet with unions “from time to time in response to their request.” During that investigation, neither Chan nor Kwan would admit a poor relationship with the unions: but senior counsel Peter Duncan revealed the union submission to the IRC had been titled “Serious negligence of duty by officials of the Transport Department and their ineffective monitoring”.

In response, Kwan said the unions “seldom raised questions or suggestions about safety devices” and the only safety issue she could recall being raised at union meetings was about a windscreen demister.

Lawmaker Chan Han-pan slammed the move from KMB, claiming the public would have the impression of wrongdoing even if the civil servant had completed the 18-month cooling-off period. Chan urged the government to review and tighten civil servants’ post-office regulation.

According to public information, from January 2017 to January 2021, KMB and its subsidiary Long Win have won 48 new routes, against only 27 for rivals CityBus and NWFB.

TD did not respond to questions about Kwan’s employment.

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