Arts veteran backs Hui for culture

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 May, 2012, 12:00am


Drama veteran Ko Tin-lung last night added his support for Florence Hui Hiu-fai to be culture minister in the next government, following criticism that she lacks knowledge of the field.

Hui, appointed undersecretary for home affairs after a career in banking, is hotly tipped to head the culture bureau to be created under the new government. But artist Danny Yung Ning-tsun - who helped chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying draft his cultural platform - and prominent art critic Mathias Woo Yan-wai say Hui is not the right person for the job.

Ko, the artistic director of Chung Ying Theatre Company, said he supported the choice of Hui for the post when the undersecretary showed up at Kwai Tsing Theatre yesterday. She was there to watch the group's performance of The Elephant Man.

As Chung Ying Theatre receives a government subsidy, the two had met regularly over the years, Ko said. 'She doesn't need to do her homework [on the local cultural scene] ... we have met often at art performances and she pays for her own tickets,' he said when asked if Hui was at the theatre to bone up on culture.

Ko said he and Hui also sat on a panel advising the Trade Development Council on its annual book fair, and he had every confidence in her.

Hui took the initiative to learn from arts veterans, he said. She had proposed a meeting with Ko after reading his book, he said, and she asked the theatre group to submit its ideas for cultural development.

The undersecretary would not answer questions yesterday about her suitability for the role of culture minister, saying she was at the theatre just to see the play.

In a separate interview with Now TV yesterday, Hui quoted Lung Ying-tai, a famous author and academic who was appointed Taiwan's first minister of culture, as saying: 'The willingness to listen could be more important than knowledge in the field.'

She also described the importance of commercial support for arts development. 'Some friends [in the cultural sector] want exchange opportunities and further education. Can the business sector offer support?' she asked.

Private companies in Seattle donated the equivalent of about HK$1 billion a year to the cultural sector, while those in Hong Kong contributed about HK$100 million. There was room for an increase, she noted.

'Culture is the atmosphere around you. It demonstrates beauty and righteousness,' she said.

The concept, deemed hard to grasp, can be seen in everyday life, according to Hui, who said she referred to the Chinese classic the Analects of Confucius for advice on bringing up her two daughters.

'When my daughter travels with me on the MTR, she lets me take the seat. She also asked another child not to sit and let her mother take it instead,' Hui said.