Leniency for Taiwanese firm whose comics walk a fine line

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 July, 2007, 12:00am

The chief of the Trade Development Council yesterday said it would not act against a Taiwanese publisher who had put comic books with suspected objectionable content on display at its book fair.

Council executive director Fred Lam Tin-fuk said he believed the publisher had not been familiar with the city's obscenity laws. The comics depict various sexual acts.

'The council will take a lenient approach this time. We believe it had not been intended,' Mr Lam said.

His remarks follow the temporary withdrawal of a book that depicted neoclassical nudes on its front cover after government censors deemed it obscene. The 1798 Francois Gerard painting, Psyche Receiving the First Kiss From Cupid, was used on a Chinese translation of a Korean title: 'Love Mythology: Love stories in Greek and Roman Mythology' by author Lee Yoon-ki.

The ban sparked a public outcry and the Television and Entertainment Licensing Authority cleared the book the following day. It had been on sale at last year's book fair, but had passed unnoticed by censors.

Mr Lam tried to distance the Trade Development council from the fiasco yesterday. He told Commercial Radio: 'I do not feel that I should comment on this. In the book fair, there are many kinds of books and I believe readers can choose the books they like.'

Mr Lam said this year's Hong Kong Book Fair was a success and added he was optimistic the attendance would outnumber the 680,000 recorded during last year's event.

He said the council hoped to make the annual fair an open platform of cultural exchange between authors and cultural workers from both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

This year the council invited 50 children from needy families in Tin Shui Wai in the northwest New Territories to the book fair, giving them HK$100 each to buy books.

Mr Lam said he planned to expand the scheme next year.

Some 475 exhibitors from 20 countries or regions are taking part in this year's fair at the Convention and Exhibition Centre, which ends tomorrow.