Tourism Board chairman sues critic of Hong Kong’s e-sports and music festival

Peter Lam’s lawyers say article that questioned attendance and cost of event was libellous and are seeking damages and legal costs from e-sports firm founder

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 August, 2017, 5:28pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 August, 2017, 11:18am

The chairman of the Hong Kong Tourism Board is suing a company founder over allegedly libellous claims contained in a newspaper article that attacked the city’s first-ever e-sports festival last week.

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The Apple Daily article cited in Peter Lam Kin-ngok’s High Court writ quoted Hong Kong e-Sports founder Derek Cheung as criticising the low attendance and high cost of the e-Sports and Music Festival Hong Kong held between August 4 and 6 at the Coliseum in Hung Hom.

He also alleged a company linked to Lam was involved in the festival organised by the tourism body.

In a writ filed on Wednesday, Lam’s lawyers said the article, published on the newspaper’s website on August 4, was libellous and sought damages and legal costs.

Lam also sought a court order to stop Cheung and any others associated with him from further publishing any defamatory statements.

According to the writ, the translated title and sub-title of the article read: “e-Sport Festival: Government spends HK$35 million in preparation

“Derek Cheung: The whole venue is rather empty despite tickets giveaway”.

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Cheung was quoted on the first day of the three-day event as saying the venue was far from full despite tickets being given away free. “Not even one side was filled,” he said.

He questioned why the event cost HK$35 million, even though it was not officially authorised by League of Legends, the game in which e-sports players cross horns.

He estimated that Toyz, a prominent Hongkonger who played for the Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau team at the festival, would charge not more than several hundred thousand dollars, while other players would charge tens of thousands.

“Not sure how the HK$35 million was spent, given that Big Bang charges about US$1 to US$1.5 million for their performance in Hong Kong,” he added, referring to the prominent K-pop band which performed at the festival.

In the article, Cheung, whose company was one of the bidders, also said the tender was unfair.

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“Everybody used a venue in Central in their bid. It was given to his [Lam’s] sister’s company, switching the venue to the Hong Kong Coliseum in Hung Hom,” he said.

In a statement, the Hong Kong Tourism Board hit back, saying 168 Production & Engineering Services, the contractor which won the bid, was not owned by Lam and that Lam had not made any financial gain.

The board said the e-sports contest, Return of the Legends, had been authorised by League of Legend’s developer Riot Games, and that the HK$35 million had been spent on events other than the e-sports race.

Cheung responded in a subsequent statement, published on the front page of the Ming Pao newspaper, that Lam was a director of Media Asia Group Holdings, which represents some South Korean bands as an agent in China.

It is not known if the bands were the same ones that performed during the e-sports event in Hong Kong. Cheung declined to comment further when contacted as he said legal proceedings had begun.