Critics round on 'outsider' tipped to run culture bureau

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2012, 12:00am


Prominent figures in the cultural and creative industries have come out strongly against appointing as culture minister an outsider who has no experience in the field and has done little networking in the local or overseas arts scene.

Among the critics of Undersecretary for Home Affairs Florence Hui Hiu-fai's potential for the job was Danny Yung Ning-tsun, a board member of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. He helped chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying draft his culture platform during the election campaign.

Hui's name surfaced in the rumour mill after the Beijing-loyalist camp allegedly rejected Institute of Contemporary Culture founder and chief executive Ada Wong Ying-kay as a candidate.

Leung has not announced his cabinet line-up, but it is understood that Hui has recently been meeting leading cultural professionals.

Yung, who is also chairman of Wong's institute, said the new minister should have experience in cultural policymaking and creative industries, and understand the promotion of culture and innovation.

'Hui has experience in neither of these areas. I've been involved in international cultural exchanges for 20 years, and I've never seen Hui at any of those events. There might be some jobs appropriate for her, but she is not the appropriate person for the ministerial post.'

Yung said leadership and co-ordination with other government bodies would be crucial for the future culture bureau.

In the short run, it was important to find the right person to head the bureau and a strong team to back the minister's vision, he said.

The culture minister must have a firm grasp of not just Hong Kong but also regional cultural development as linked to education and economics, if the person was to lay out a blueprint for cultural development for the city and other parts of China, he said.

Design Centre vice-chairman Freeman Lau Siu-hong said that if an outsider like Hui was to be appointed, he would rather see culture returned to the oversight of the commerce bureau.

'After all these years, we finally have good relations with commerce bureau officials,' Lau said. 'And the new government wants to move us to a new bureau, and we have to educate those bureaucrats all over again? Please, stop wasting our time.'

The designer said he had never met Hui before. He cited Taiwan's new culture minister, Lung Ying-tai, who is an author and critic, and Macau's Cultural Affairs Bureau chief Ung Vai-meng, an award-winning artist and former director of Macau's Museum of Art.

If Hong Kong's culture bureau was led by someone of a lower calibre compared to them 'people will treat us like a laughing stock', Lau said.

The Hong Kong Cultural Sector Joint Conference 2.0, an organisation formed to discuss the future bureau, issued a statement saying the culture sector was strongly against an outsider like Hui becoming minister.