Book Fair plans for trouble over 'pseudo-models'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 17 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 17 July, 2009, 12:00am

Organisers of the Book Fair have come up with a contingency plan to ensure the event's safety, as petitioners asking for separation of books featuring 'pseudo-models' from more orthodox books detailed their protest plan.

The announcement by the fair's organiser, the Trade Development Council, follows claims of increasing commercialisation of the fair and complaints of nuisance caused by fans turning up to support their idols. The models' books have been criticised for showing overly sexy photographs.

The council added that it had reminded participating publishers to promote a positive and healthy image for the Book Fair.

Sony Computer Entertainment said the reason its photo album, Summer Blooming, which features five young models, would be pulled from the fair was that it had already sold out and extras could not be printed in time. Lavina Chung, featured in Summer Blooming, said models had the right to publish.

The council said that since some of the autograph sessions might attract big crowds, the council had arranged two venues - the Chancellor Room on the fourth floor and the lobby of the new entrance wing of the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

It was understood that out of more than 130 autograph sessions during the fair, 13 would feature teenage pseudo-models promoting their albums. These sessions would take place on the fourth floor away from the main fair area. The council said security would be tightened to ensure safety and order. 'Action will be taken immediately, including terminating any events, if chaos occurs,' a spokesman said.

But such arrangements have yet to please all. Members of the Public Cultural Events Concern Group, which evolved from a 40,000-member Facebook group against the appearance of pseudo-models, said they would stage a protest on July 22 near the fair venue. Group founder Isaac Cheung Chun-hoi said members would be distributing stickers and leaflets on the bridge leading to Immigration Tower between 2pm and 4pm.

They would then move to Golden Bauhinia Square for a 30-minute silent protest at about 4.30pm, before submitting their petition to a council representative. 'We are not aiming at attacking the models, we just want better organisation of this cultural event,' Mr Cheung said

Another group member, Form Five pupil Yim Man-wa, said: 'The fair has become chaotic because of the fans chasing after the stars. It deprives book lovers' of their right to enjoy reading and buying books in a good environment.'

She said the 20 committee members would be joining the protest and that the concern group had set up a new Facebook page recruiting people for the protest.

Mr Cheung said that last night more than 1,000 had signed up for this new group, but he was unsure how many would actually turn up at the event.

The group's secretary, Zephy Leung Tsz-him, said it hoped that the council would issue a written promise of better organisation.

Choi Chi-sum, general secretary for the Society for Truth and Light, said the fair organisers' stance was important if they truly wanted to promote reading and culture.

Last year the fair attracted more than 830,000 visitors.