GEORGE TOWN: The Commission of Inquiry into the failures of two civil structures in Penang has come down hard on the engineer who designed the fin wall atop the 21st storey of Menara Umno in Jalan Macalister.
The engineer, Lee Ah Yew, was "grossly incompetent and grossly negligent" and had committed multiple serious errors, which resulted in the reinforced-concrete structure weighing about 200 tonnes collapsing on June 13, 2013.
In its report, the three-member commission headed by Datuk Yeo Yang Poh said Monday that Lee, who designed the fin wall in 1995, was then a graduate engineer with no experience in designing a "slender" cantilever column on top of a tall building.
The commission has recommended that the Board of Engineers (BEM) initiate disciplinary action against Lee.
It said the board should also take disciplinary action against Dr Gerry Wong Kong Ming, the submitting engineer who signed and submitted the engineering drawings to the local planning authorities.
"As such, the errors and inadequacies in the design of the fin wall are deemed to be his; for which he must bear equal responsibility, though he signed them without checking," it said.
The commission rapped the North-East district officer Azizi Zakaria for abandoning his duties as the person in-charge of emergency responses under Arahan 20.
"His dereliction of duty was so complete and that it is difficult to imagine anyone who could have done worse.
"Encik Azizi's lack of remorse and contrition when he testified before the commission and his unabashed downplay of his total neglect of duty, are very much disturbing,” the report stated.
In the incident, the fin wall collapsed and hit a passing car and buried it (together with its driver) beneath the ground. A lorry attendant nearby was also killed. Several vehicles and properties were damaged.
The commission also submitted its findings into the ramp which collapsed on June 6, 2013 at the Batu Maung interchange leading to the second Penang Bridge.