Society charges up to HK$200 for ‘free’ speech by former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten

Spokeswoman for event said ‘We would like to make it clear the talk is free of charge’

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 September, 2017, 6:59pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 2:26pm

The Hong Kong branch of a British academic association has caused confusion after it was found to be selling tickets to a speech to be given by former Hong Kong governor Chris Patten next week – which is free and open to the public.

In an email written by the Royal Geographical Society Hong Kong, it stated ticket prices for the event was HK$150 for members and HK$200 for non-members. Pre-payment was required, suggesting the society may have reserved seats for ticket buyers.

Hong Kong University, the event organiser, asked students, faculty members and the public to register if they wished to attend the lecture by Patten. But the event, scheduled to be held on September 21, is free and open to the public. The event is sold out with 600 people expected to attend.

The society also posted an event alert on Facebook with a copy of the email message. However, the page indicates that the event is sold out.

It said in the Facebook post that the Royal Geographical Society would host the event.

Ticket prices were the standard rate charged by the society for its other events.

A spokeswoman for the event said: “We would like to make it clear that the talk at the University of Hong Kong is free of charge. Anyone claiming to be able to arrange attendance for this event for a fee is misleading. Anyone who [has] not received a named acknowledgement from General Education Unit, the University of Hong Kong [about] his/her registration for attendance at the event will not be admitted.”

The university did not partner with the society, she added.

The Royal Geographical Society’s Hong Kong branch did not comment.

The society was established in the United Kingdom in 1830 to develop and promote geographical knowledge. The society’s Hong Kong branch was established in 1995.

Patten, the last governor of colonial Hong Kong, will give a speech entitled “Ideology replaced by Identity: How will peace and prosperity survive”.

After his governorship ended in 1997, Patten continued his career as the EU commissioner for external relations, the chairman of state broadcaster BBC and is currently the chancellor of Oxford University.