Dolce & Gabbana's apology too late
After weeks of protests over its photo ban against Hongkongers, Dolce & Gabbana finally broke its silence early yesterday morning - as most of the city slept - to say it was 'truly sorry'.
But the delayed apology was not enough to appease some angry internet users, who suggested another photo shoot protest be staged on Sunday. The Italian fashion house issued a statement around 3am yesterday apologising for alleged criminal intimidation of a photographer outside its Harbour City store.
'We understand that the events which unfolded in front of the Dolce & Gabbana boutique on Canton Road have offended the citizens of Hong Kong,' it said. 'For this we are truly sorry and we apologise.'
That came after police on Tuesday said they were investigating reports that a security guard at the Harbour City threatened to smash a reporter's camera as he tried to take a photo of the shop from the street.
Two weeks ago, Hongkongers were reportedly told by the store's security guards - at the company's request - that only mainland tourists and foreigners could freely take pictures of the shop, citing copyright protection as the reason.
That angered the public and the Tsim Sha Tsui shop became the target of a series of protests organised via Facebook. On January 8, over 1,000 protesters gathered in Canton Road to demonstrate their rage by taking photos of the shop. Similar protests were held at the weekend. The shop had to be closed for business during the protests.
Dolce & Gabbana's Hong Kong office said it had nothing to do with the request, but did not apologise. The fashion house's Milan headquarters had not responded to queries from the South China Morning Post before yesterday's apology.
'The Dolce & Gabbana policy is to welcome the Hong Kong people and ... the whole world, respecting the rights of each individual and of the local laws,' said the statement.
Internet users rejected the apology, however. 'Although the company apologised, it did so for having offended Hong Kong residents. It did not admit that it was wrong ... to ban photos from being taken,' said the creator of a Facebook page promoting another protest this Sunday. The company has offered no guarantee that it will allow photographs to be taken outside the store in future, and did not identify the security guard responsible for the discriminatory comments, the Facebook page said.
Others urged people to accept the apology. 'Stand-offs and impulsive acts may not solve the problem,' Facebook user Jose Leung wrote.
Dr Ma Ngok, a political scientist at Chinese University, said the row was an extension of discontent over property hegemony and had hit a raw nerve in the city as it touched on class issues and discrimination in favour of wealthy mainlanders. 'There are more and more luxury flats and top brands in the city - but they are not serving Hongkongers,' he said.
What D&G said
Controversial statements reported in the Hong Kong press have not been made by Dolce & Gabbana nor its staff and we strongly reject any racist or derogatory comments. It is regrettable that Dolce & Gabbana has been brought into this matter, but we wish to underline that our company has not taken part in any action aiming at offending the Hong Kong public.
We understand that the events which unfolded in front of the Dolce & Gabbana Boutique on Canton Road have offended the citizens of Hong Kong, and for this we are truly sorry and we apologise. The Dolce & Gabbana policy is to welcome the Hong Kong people and that of the whole world respecting the rights of each individual and of the local laws.