Lai See

Tycoon bids for a piece of Central Police Station project

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 1:17am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 1:17am

The Jockey Club CPS (JCCPS), which is charged with overseeing the Central Police Station Revitalisation Project, is getting close to appointing an operator for the heritage and contemporary art element of the scheme. Indeed the committee is tomorrow interviewing billionaire Adrian Cheng Chi-kong and Calvin Hui, who are co-founders of the not-for-profit organisation Arts in Heritage Research (AHR).

Cheng is a grandson of New World tycoon Cheng Yu-tung and a director of New World Development and other group companies as well being one of the world's youngest billionaires at 34. Calvin Hui is a well-known figure in Asian art circles and a co-director of Fine Art Asia.

AHR is the sole remaining bidder for the role after two others were ruled out on a technicality as they were not set up as non-profit organisations. AHR, which was set up late last year, looks almost tailor-made for the role, but we are assured that despite being the last one standing it will not be a shoe-in, but it must be the favourite. After tomorrow's meeting the JCCPS will make a recommendation to the Jockey Club.

The other bidders included the Hong Kong Arts Centre and a consortium which included Claire Hsu's Asia Art Archive, Para Site, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, and The Ink Society.

While the JCCPS will be overseeing the site, the Jockey Club was concerned that it should distance itself from the contemporary art element of the project. While the stewards like the fit between heritage and contemporary art, they are acutely aware that artists are prone to incorporating political messages in their art. Given that it is controlled by the government, the Jockey Club, while relaxed about artists exercising freedom of expression, does not want to find itself in the position of having to condone or censor art that might end up on the site. That's why it is appointing an independent operator.

But the prospect of an organisation involving Adrian Cheng being appointed has raised a few eyebrows. His arts credentials are undoubtedly impressive, as the founder of the K11 Art Foundation and his links with London's Tate and the Royal Society and so on. But as with so much of what goes on here, if it's a project with prestige then there's a tycoon involved.

This is a public site though it is being built with Jockey Club money, which keeps it out of the Legislative Council's ambit. But there's been little if any community input into it. It would be a shame if it became another Asia Society - a networking club for the rich.


A Rainbow in Mui Wo

Readers may recall our dispatches from Mui Wo last week that dealt with flagrant illegal parking and the lack of concern about this by the police. We also drew attention to speculation that the police had been encouraged not to enforce the law so as to help create a groundswell of opinion for a multi-storey car park. This would naturally be built on land owned by the local rural elite.

A sign was put up by the Mui Wo rural committee office of Wong Siu-keung, otherwise known as Rainbow Wong. He's a member of the Islands District Council. His sign calls for an increase in parking spaces, and improved "carriageway and pedestrian access to villages". It exhorts villagers to "urge government to listen to our concerns and needs"."

Rainbow is no doubt looking out for the best interest of his constituents. Nevertheless, while it is true that the car parking in Mui Wo is chaotic, not everyone is convinced a car park is the answer as the majority of people in the village do not own a car, and the existing car parks are generally half-empty. What is needed is for the police to get off their backsides and enforce the law.