No conflict of interest, say contest judges

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 March, 2013, 4:12am

Two judges in the Critic's Prize competition have rejected allegations that there was a conflict of interest when they awarded the prize to a journalist who wrote a controversial article.

Jia Xuanning, a 24-year-old Beijing-born writer working for the pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po, won the HK$50,000 prize in a competition organised by the Arts Development Council.

Her review of Hong Kong director Pang Ho-cheung's blockbuster film Vulgaria created outrage when she accused the movie of having "degraded mainlanders to make Hongkongers feel good, and has presented the narrowness, opportunism and pretentiousness of the Hong Kong people".

Some people later pointed out that two of the judges in the writing competition were related to Yazhou Zhoukan magazine, to which Jia also contributes.

Yau Lop-poon, one of the judges and the magazine's chief editor, said yesterday the judging procedure of the six-member panel was "strict enough".

The judges did not know who were the authors of the 60 entries.

He said Jia was not an employee but a contributor to the magazine and he did not know she had entered the contest.

"[The accusation] was horrible. It was like accusing us of showing favouritism," Yau said. Another judge, Perry Lam Pui-li, a columnist at the magazine and also a council member, said he did not know the winning article was from Jia during the judging.

He said the article deserved recognition as it could inspire thinking about Hongkongers' perception of mainlanders.

The council had earlier said the panel judged the works according to the quality and standard, "without making any reference to the participants".