West Kowloon arts hub keeping board meeting news quiet
Revelation the West Kowloon authority has kept public in dark on activities 'totally unacceptable'
The West Kowloon arts hub has not published records of its board meetings on its website for nearly two years, it has emerged.
The discovery has raised doubts over transparency at the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority. Some board members were shocked by its failure to keep the public informed about their activities. They said it might give the false impression that they had not met, although they had attended meetings regularly.
"This is totally unacceptable," board member and lawmaker Sin Chung-kai said. "Unless the items are confidential, everything should be made public."
On the website, information such as meeting dates, times, agendas, papers and minutes has not been updated since April 23, 2010. Details of only five board meetings are available.
The Arts Development Council, in comparison, records non-sensitive items involving meeting agendas and minutes on its website on a regular basis.
"I'm totally surprised. We have been meeting regularly," West Kowloon board member Danny Yung Ning-tsun said.
On March 17, 2009, when chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen was chairing the board, the authority ran a live webcast of its board meeting - lasting just four minutes. "We feel that this is the best way to reach out and allow as many people as possible, in a convenient way, to participate," Tang said that year. The authority wanted to operate in a "highly transparent manner and [a] spirit of being responsible to the public", and would withhold only items involving commercial and sensitive information, he said.
Sin and Yung said the authority should review its operation and communication with the public. Sin suggested the live webcasts be revived. Yung believed changes in the chairmanship had affected its operations. Tang stepped down from the authority in 2011 when he resigned from his government job. He was succeeded by Stephen Lam Sui-lung, the next chief secretary. Lam later left the government and current Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor became chairwoman in July.
"My concern is that Lam may be overstretching herself," Yung said. "The arts hub is a very important project for Hong Kong and we need someone who can keep a close eye on its operation."
An authority spokesman said attendance records and dates of board meetings were publicly available at its central registrar.
As the arts hub moves towards the design and construction stage, a lot of meetings concerned confidential items such as contracts, which could not be disclosed, he said. "We alert the public immediately after important decisions have been made, such as the results of a design competition," he said.