• Thu
  • Aug 21, 2014
  • Updated: 11:32pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 3:11am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 April, 2014, 3:11am

Hong Kong's Mega Events Fund lacks bang for its buck

When the head of a government body admits its operations need to be reviewed, you know something is seriously wrong.

So after the government auditor released a scathing report on the Tourism Commission's Mega Events Fund, Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, the fund's chief, grudgingly acknowledged a review was now called for.

It's a bit late for that. Under Lam, the fund has been wasteful on events that did little to enhance Hong Kong or entertain the public while rejecting others that might have achieved those purposes.

The fund needs to be overhauled, starting with Lam's replacement. Better, why not just scrap the fund?

The auditor has accused the fund of overstating attendances and job creation and of spending irregularities. Some of the claims by the fund are almost comical.

It claimed events it funded since March 2012 attracted 900,000 people and created 10,000 jobs. The auditors said the fund counted passers-by who might have been just walking past the events held in open areas. Job creation claims were also often meaningless or absurd, as the events lasted for one or a few days and contributed nothing to the labour market.

At the annual Dragon and Lion Dance Extravaganza held on January 1 this year, 410 "jobs" the fund claimed to have created were actually tasks assigned to primary school and kindergarten students!

Some payroll records and invoices were also missing for three one-day events, which took a total of HK$3.9 million from the fund. These likely referred to the dragon and lion dance events held between 2011 and 2013.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong has been a driving force behind the annual events. Five of its members sat on the extravaganza's organising committee. It's time for the DAB to show us the books if there is nothing to hide.

At the 2012 Hong Kong Open golf tournament, which received a whopping HK$15 million from the fund, 93 per cent of the tickets were given to the venue provider and sponsors, among others. Oh, by the way, most of that amount went to pay golf ace Rory McIlroy, who promptly made an exit citing physical exhaustion.

The fund seems to specialise in getting the least bang for its buck.

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the sun also rises
When the head of a government body admits its operations need to be reviewed, you know something is seriously wrong.
Under Lam, the fund has been wasteful on events that did little to enhance Hong Kong or entertain the public while rejecting others that might have achieved those purposes.
The fund needs to be overhauled, starting with Lam's replacement. Better, why not just scrap the fund? Fully agree with what Alex Lo said that the Mega Fund urgently needs to be scrapped once and for all as it is just a big waste of public money and only benefits those cronies !
dynamco
change the lot of them
tell Lam to find his missing sleeve button on the way out to his next CX junkett
let him drive himself once he gets his licence back
impala
Yes it is all completely ridiculous. And wasteful. And shameful.

And it is also largely irrelevant. A storm in a teacup. Small peanuts. A head may roll. The public will roar and the lions get the scraps.

But really, we are talking small change here. A couple of million here, a couple of million there. Mere distractions from the bigger picture.

Let's talk about the real (white) elephant in the room instead: the Capital Works Reserve Fund. Then we'd be talking billions. Tens of billions.

Billions for the Hong-Kong-Macau-Nowhere Bridge. Billions for the High Speed Railway from Nowhere to Noplace. Billlions for the No Ships in Sight Cruise Terminal. Billions for the Empty Stonecutter Bridge.

And soon: billions for the Third Runway That We Don't Need. Billions for the East Atlantis Metropolis Island in the Frigging Sea.

Oh yeah, and what about the severely under-utilised West Harbour Tunnel then? And then there is Cyberport. Oh Cyberport... don't get us started on that. And of course the West Kowloon Cultural Desert.

Let's get real and take a tough look at the plenty of pockets that get lined with those insane infrastructure projects and their non-existent cost efficiency.
Dao-Phooy
Pigs with their snouts in the trough! Get rid of this useless Quango!!!
johnyuan
The low class took in 5 million and the high class 15 million all from the middle class. Value for the money is to buy peace and fame respectively.At least paying the triads to do the lion dance, a more or less a Chinese New Year festival tradition in extortion that three days Hong Kong had stores disrupted none or no chopping in the streets. But paying 15 million for a withdrawer in a golf tournament is achieving the opposite – Hong Kong becomes a laughing stalk internationally for being a sucker of its officialdom, including the middle class.
.
If the tourism sector thinks that it is important to have such activities organized, let it pays next time. No more more stealings from the middle class.
chaz_hen
I have never, ever seen HK as a laughing stock, internationally, in media or by anecdote. It's because HK is a small, mostly irrelevant place where people might go to get their fix of "Chinese culture" without actually having to enter the mainland or goods get trans shipped.
What's laughable is HK officials always worried about their image and repeatedly self proclaiming that they're Asia's "World City" when they do NOTHING competent to make that claim a reality.
 
 
 
 
 

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