Cost, not politics, delaying Vatican show, says official
The long delay in staging a Vatican art exhibition in Hong Kong was due to the high cost involved, the government said yesterday, while sidestepping questions on whether political pressure from Beijing was behind the hold-up.
The Vatican Museum wrote to the government again last month, pushing for a progress report on the exhibition.
Hong Kong's plan to stage an exhibition of treasures from the Vatican Museums appears to have been delayed indefinitely amid mounting tension between Beijing and the Holy See over the ordination of mainland bishops without Vatican approval.
But Anissa Wong Sean-yee, director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, said progress had been held up by technical problems, including a date for the exhibition, the type of exhibits and whether items would be compatible with the theme of the display.
'One of the reasons is, of course, the expected high cost. In the past, many exhibitions went ahead quickly because we found sponsors, but with such a major exhibition, costing possibly an astronomical figure, it will take time,' she said.
'We have already started preliminary work ... but as with many similar discussions, not all of the discussions might result in reality.'
It could cost tens of millions of dollars to insure the items.
Home Affairs Permanent Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor evaded a question on whether the delay was due to pressure from Beijing. 'There are many factors.'