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West Kowloon Cultural District

Tell Hongkongers how the Palace Museum plan came to be, West Kowloon consultant urges

Veteran arts advocate claims she learned of decision via WhatsApp day it was announced

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 12:19pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 January, 2017, 10:58pm

The Hong Kong public should receive a detailed explanation about the plan to build a local version of Beijing’s Palace Museum, a member of a West Kowloon Cultural District consultation panel says.

Veteran arts advocate Ada Wong Ying-kay, who sits on a 16-member consultation panel that was set up to gather public views on the district’s development, said she was informed of the museum plan only through a WhatsApp message sent by the Home Affairs Bureau on December 23, the day the project was formally announced.

“The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority should clearly explain to us the context and details of the plan as the district had rather strong public participation in the past,” Wong said on a local radio programme on Tuesday.

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority should clearly explain to us the context and details of the plan
Ada Wong Ying-kay, arts advocate

The government announced the project on December 23, surprising many in the city and sparking debate over why the public had not been consulted in the decision to build a 10,000 sq m museum intended to exhibit relics provided by Beijing.

In the future, Wong said, the voice of the public would be essential.

“There will be great public participation in how to operate and who is to manage the museum … I hope [an exhibition of] the relics could be interpreted from Hongkongers’ perspectives,” she added.

Wong said the authority would hold a meeting with the consultation panel regarding the museum plan within the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, art and antique collectors’ groups formed an alliance to show their support for the project.

Alliance spokesman Eddy Li Sau-hung, who chairs the Hong Kong Chinese Arts and Culture Promotion Foundation, evaded reporters’ questions on whether a public consultation was needed before the project could proceed.

“The alliance is apolitical. We are not experts in government procedures and we shall leave it for the government officials to ­explain,” Li said, adding the alliance’s support for the project had nothing to do with the possible candidacy of Chief Secretary ­Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, who also chairs the West Kowloon authority, in the coming chief executive election.

Another alliance member, Kelvin Ching Sau-hong, chief executive officer of Sotheby’s Asia, said open discussion might be necessary for the museum’s ­management, but not for ­construction.

Louis Ng Chi-wah, deputy director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, told the press at another event his office did not play a role in the museum project, which was a matter between the Palace Museum and the authority.

As for details of the new project, Ng referred the press to the chief secretary’s appearance at a Legislative Council House Committee meeting on Friday.