Ma told to quit as 'embarrassment to film industry'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 November, 2013, 7:24pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 November, 2013, 10:58am

Cultural and sports lawmaker Ma Fung-kwok is under fire as he was accused of betraying Hong Kong's creative sector in the free-TV licence row and the Hong Kong Ballet censorship scandal.

Eleven Hong Kong film industry associations yesterday issued a joint statement demanding Ma quit. They condemned him for abstaining in the vote for a Legco inquiry into the government decision to reject the licence application from Ricky Wong Wai-kay's Hong Kong Television Network. The vote failed.

Meanwhile, the arts community criticised Ma for not speaking up when segments touching on the Cultural Revolution in Hong Kong Ballet's The Dream of the Red Chamber were reportedly deleted without consent from choreographer Wang Xinpeng.

The film associations' statement said they were "extremely disappointed and angry" with Ma, who last year won the functional constituency seat representing sport, performing arts, culture and publications.

"Ma, also the chairman of the Film Development Council, ignored strong demand to find out the truth. His vote to abstain betrayed the industry's interests and we demand he quit," the statement added.

Actor-producer John Shum Kin-fun made his views clear. "Ma Fung-kwok is an embarrassment to the industry," he said.

Arts Development Council member-elect Ng Mei-kwan said in both the TV licence row and Hong Kong Ballet case, Ma had done little to fight for creative freedom. "This is the core value of Hong Kong," Ng said.

Responding to the criticism, Ma said he supported the demand for the government to publicly explain the TV licence decision but believed authorising a Legco inquiry could undermine the government's decision-making mechanism - something he could not support.

He said he had demanded an explanation in four meetings with government officials, including Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. He added he had received just one text message from the film industry giving its views.

He also said he had met nearly 20 concern groups. "Some of them thought that two free-TV licences were enough," Ma said.

He also said he would consider filing an application for a judicial review of the decision.

The Hong Kong Journalists Association and Press Photographers Association also called on Ma to explain to them in person why he abstained.