• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:32am
NewsHong Kong

Spotlight on HK$5m funding for lion dance

ICAC asked to investigate money trail from government's Mega Events Fund to parade run by political allies and dance team bosses

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 April, 2014, 3:16am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 April, 2014, 7:36am

The city's graft-busters have been asked to investigate an annual parade sponsored by the government's HK$250 million Mega Events Fund after the latest audit report revealed potential conflicts of interest and irregularities in its accounts and records.

The accusations against the Dragon and Lion Dance Extravaganza were filed with the Independent Commission Against Corruption by the Democratic Party yesterday.

The organising committee includes at least five members of the pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB). It has received a total of HK$5.3 million from the fund since 2011 for its annual one-day event showcasing dragon and lion dancing. It includes HK$1.5 million for this year's parade on January 1 in Tsim Sha Tsui.

However, DAB lawmaker Chan Kam-lam, who heads the 11-strong committee, said yesterday that the events actually relied mainly on sponsorship.

He dismissed suggestions of corrupt practices.

"We have kept our own records, which were managed by an independent body and subject to internal audit," said Chan.

The audit report said some invoices and payroll records were missing, and two dance teams were run by two members of the organising committee, Ha Tak-kin and Tam Ting-pong.

Chan admitted that he lined up Ha and Tam to join the organising committee in 2011.

Tam said accusations of misconduct were unfair. "You can't just grab someone off the street to perform the dances," he said. "The whole [martial arts and dance] community really came together and pitched in on this. This is honestly quite upsetting."

He claimed each event could easily have cost more than HK$20 million to hold, but they had received only about HK$5 million from the government.

"A lion dance team would cost HK$3,000 to HK$5,000, but the teams were only paid HK$1,100," he said, adding that the performers had willingly accepted a quarter of their usual fee.

"I'm just a simple kung fu man, and we were just hoping to spread the word about the lion and dragon dance as a part of Chinese culture," said Tam.

However, Lam Cheuk-ting, chief executive of the Democrats and former ICAC investigator, said there was an "apparent transfer of monetary benefits".

The Mega Events Fund - set up in 2009 to help non-profit-making organisations put on arts, cultural and sports events - and the CreateSmart Initiative - were both criticised by the Audit Commission for inadequate monitoring of the use of government money. Both fall under the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau.

Jeffrey Lam Kin-fung, chairman of the Mega Events Fund's assessment committee, agreed a review was needed. He noted the Tourism Commission was responsible for overseeing the execution of approved projects.

The Tourism Commission said most of the recommendations for the Mega Events Fund in the audit report "have been or will be implemented as appropriate".

The ICAC said it would not comment on individual cases.



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This article is now closed to comments

Congratulations to the Auditor and his team. Please carry on your great work of exposing the unacceptable actions of over-entitled bureaux and departments as well as these projects by useless quangos.
Just another slush fund to line the pockets of pro-govt insiders. Hardly newsworthy in HK.
Some reason this, like other articles that do not show the DAB (obviously the party for the betterment of themselves) in a favourable light, was not posted on facebook?
So minor events of little interest to most, and of great benefit to the participants and the DAB, have cash thrown at them, but major World class event like the Cricket Sixes and the Hong Kong Open get nothing!
Correction, "deep pockets". Just like those gov million dollar mobile apps that no one downloads.
None of the political parties in Hong Kong is totally clean. The DAB has to answer for this incident, the Democrats clearly don't understand conflict of interest when it's members take free flights for Cathay Pacific, whilst some of the radicals are rumoured to have gang connections. The whole scene is dirty.
How About
Go get them ICAC, I want my share of the 4cents-tax fully accounted for, or refunded otherwise in full!


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