July 1 pop music festival in Hong Kong 'not timed as plot to ruin political rally'

Organisers of HK$99 Kai Tak event say it is also a protest - against lack of mega venues

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 June, 2013, 12:50pm

Thousands of people have voiced support for a boycott of a July 1 music festival featuring K-pop stars and local bands after it was condemned as a political tool to keep young people away from the annual pro-democracy rally.

However, the Performance Industry Association (PIA) which is organising the Hong Kong Dome Festival, says it is in fact an alternative protest - against the city's lack of major venues.

Boycott campaign aside, the 18,000 tickets are now sold out.

The show, which features stars such as Korean diva BoA and local bands like Mr. and RubberBand, is to be held on the former Kai Tak runway. Major property developers are sponsoring the event and the price of a ticket is just HK$99.

Meanwhile, a Facebook page named Boycott HK Dome Festival has so far attracted 4,000 likes.

Internet users say the show is a political tool to stop young people marching on July 1.

Back in 2001, an Arts Development Council report said the colonial government used cultural events to keep youngsters away from politics after the 1967 riots.

PIA chairwoman Florence Chan said she never thought about clashing with the protest.

"July 1 has become a day for Hongkongers to express their demands to the government. We picked this day because we wanted to show the government that we need a mega venue in Hong Kong so that we can stay competitive in the region," said Chan.

Chan said the Hong Kong Coliseum, with a 12,500 capacity, was saturated with bookings. "We need a venue with a capacity of 25,000 to 30,000," she said.

A mega venue with an 18,000 capacity has been part of the West Kowloon Cultural District plans, but the project's chief executive Michael Lynch has said the go-ahead will depend on the budget.

Tokyo Dome has a capacity of 55,000, while Kaohsiung in Taiwan has a stadium that can seat 40,000 people, and Singapore Sports Hub has a new 55,000-seater stadium.

Chan explained the low ticket price for Hong Kong ID cardholders was to help show public demand for mega shows.

Jackie Hung Ling-yu, of the Civil Human Rights Front which is organising the July 1 rally, insisted the concert was sponsored by property developers to reduce the turnout of the rally, which targets Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

She said the ploy would be in vain and protesters would take to the streets as usual.