June 4th protests

June 4 museum in legal threat ahead of opening

PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 4:54am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 April, 2014, 4:54am

The group behind the world's first museum dedicated to the Tiananmen Square crackdown - due to open in Hong Kong this month - has been warned that it may be violating property deeds.

The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China said it intended to go ahead and open the museum on April 20 - six weeks before the 25th anniversary of the June 4 crackdown.

Preparations had been going smoothly since the alliance bought the 800 sq ft space at Tsim Sha Tsui's Foo Hoo Centre for more than HK$9.7 million in December - until the group received a lawyer's letter from the tower block's owners' committee last month.

"It said that opening a museum in the commercial centre might violate the deeds of covenant as the space should only be used for offices," said Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, alliance vice-chairman. "It also warned that the museum might cause nuisance to other tenants as it could draw a huge number of visitors."

It is understood that the owners' committee is holding a meeting on Wednesday to decide whether to take legal action.

Alliance chairman Lee Cheuk-yan said they would be sending representatives. "The museum could only cater to tens of visitors at a time and we believe it would not cause any inconvenience to other tenants," he said. "We are confident that we stand on firm legal ground.

"There isn't any June 4 memorial museum in the world. This would be something for Hongkongers to be proud of and I hope people can accept having it in their building," he added.

Lee, who also chairs the Labour Party, refused to speculate on whether there could have been any political pressure behind the episode.

When asked his opinion on the owners' committee claim, lawyer Daniel Wong Kwok-tung told the Post he believed it was giving too narrow a definition of a commercial enterprise. He said a majority of tenants would need to prove the museum had indeed caused a nuisance for any legal action to be taken.

The alliance has run temporary June 4 exhibitions since 2012.