West Kowloon Cultural District

Activist to continue with judicial review over Palace Museum plan in Hong Kong despite consultation vow

Lawsuit will be first legal challenge to decision on West Kowloon project

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 11:49am
UPDATED : Thursday, 05 January, 2017, 5:53pm

A postgraduate law student who filed a judicial review application on Thursday afternoon over the government’s decision to build a local version of Beijing’s Palace Museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District said he would proceed with the case despite the administration’s latest decision to seek public views on the plan.

JR Group co-convenor Cary Lo Chun-yu said he still found the government’s decision to build a 10,000 sq m venue for relics from the Beijing museum to be questionable, even though the authority had promised a consultation on the design and exhibition and educational programmes.

In a claim filed with the High Court, the University of Hong Kong student questioned the administration’s failure to hold a public tender before hiring Rocco Yim Sen-kee to be the lead architect.

It was in breach of the general procedures for implementing government projects, he claimed, adding that the irregularity could have led to suspicion of cronyism.

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Lo asked the court to order that the authority hold a formal public consultation on the entire project in accordance with the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Ordinance.

The activist earlier said the JR Group had obtained signatures from 3,560 individuals and 14 civic bodies, including some localist groups, in support of their petition against the project.

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He denied the JR Group – formed by a number of students and other individuals –was linked to any political groups in the city.

“We hope to safeguard procedural justice in Hong Kong,” Lo told the media outside the court.

Neither the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority nor Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor had addressed their concerns, he said.

In reply to a Post inquiry, the authority said it had taken note of the possible lawsuit.

The government’s announcement last month surprised many in the city and sparked debate over why the public had not been consulted on the decision.

But some local art and antique collectors’ groups formed an alliance to show their support for the project.