June 4th protests

Building's owners object to Tiananmen Square museum over fears of trouble

Neighbour of exhibition on Tiananmen Square crackdown admits political sensitivity is behind objection to its location in Tsim Sha Tsui tower

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2014, 4:05am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 April, 2014, 5:27pm

Political considerations are behind property owners' objections to a June 4 museum in a Tsim Sha Tsui commercial building, the South China Morning Post has learned.

The revelation came from a member of the owners' corporation which oversees Foo Hoo Centre, on Austin Avenue, after it sent a lawyer's letter of objection last month to stop the opening of the world's first museum dedicated to the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Running a museum on the premises might breach property deeds as the space should be used only for offices, the owners' group wrote in the letter to the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China.

They are only trying to give Beijing a helping hand in suppressing us
Lee Cheuk-yan

But tenants also indicated their discomfort with being associated with the Tiananmen Square incident, given its political sensitivity.

"[The operation of] a June 4 memorial museum is definitely a political problem," Yeung Cho-ming, a member of the owners' corporation, said. "The [June 4 incident] is sensitive and contentious. We are afraid the museum will bring us trouble. Someone might protest here and affect our daily operations."

Yeung, who is also secretary general of the Chiu Chau Plastic Manufacturers Association, feared controversy could not be avoided even if the alliance took special care to resolve the security problems and nuisances caused, "as political problems cannot be settled".

His manufacturers association, located on the second floor of Foo Hoo Centre, has a Beijing-loyalist background. Its president, Lam Chun-hung, is a member of the Yunnan provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's political advisory body.

Despite the concerns, a woman who runs her business Toyroyal from the tenth floor said she believed the museum would not create much nuisance. But as a tenant, she did not have voting rights in the owners' corporation.

Excluding the museum - which is located on the fifth floor - at least seven out of 18 office units in the building are either vacant or under renovation, the Post has observed.

The alliance bought the 800 square feet space for more than HK$9.7 million in December to house the museum, slated to open on April 20 ahead of the crackdown's 25th anniversary.

Alliance chairman Lee Cheuk-yan lamented the corporation's use of legal means to solve a purely political issue.

"They are not afraid of potential protests," he said. "They are only trying to give Beijing a helping hand in suppressing us."

Lee, who is also Labour Party chairman, reiterated that they were confident they had not breached the law. It would be both unwise and a waste of money if the owners' corporation took legal action, he warned.

The owners' corporation will meet tomorrow to decide whether to go to the courts.