Hong Kong Palace Museum consultation delayed as authority moves to address public criticism
West Kowloon Cultural District Authority’s board to first meet in attempt to ‘consolidate’ responses to outcry
Consultation for the controversial Hong Kong Palace Museum project has been abruptly postponed less than one hour before it was scheduled to begin.
At 1.37pm, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority issued a press statement saying the launch, which was originally to be held at City Gallery at 2.30pm, would be deferred to Tuesday afternoon following a scheduled meeting of the authority’s board.
Although authority chairman Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor provided the Legislative Council’s house committee with an explanation of the project last Friday, the authority said it wanted to first “consolidate” responses to public concerns on various issues.
Lam was not expected to attend today’s launch of the public consultation.
“Despite the detailed explanation, the authority is aware of diverse remarks and comments on the project and concerns expressed by the community about the process over the weekend,” the statement said.
“The authority takes the view that these public concerns, if not addressed as soon as possible, would divert attention from the public consultation.”
On December 23, Lam announced the museum would be built in the West Kowloon Cultural District and would house a collection loaned from the Palace Museum in Beijing. But the decision quickly drew criticism for the government’s lack of consultation and transparency in the decision making process.
WKCD Authority board member Kan Tai-keung said he was notified of the change “unexpectedly”.
“I was having lunch, after which I would be going to the launch,” he told the Post.
He said he had no further information about the delay, but it may have been necessary given the “critical” nature of the consultation.
“The situation is critical because of the criticism, which could kill the project,” the designer said.
Kan, former director of the Cheung Kong Art and Design school at Shantou University, said he had warned the board and its chair of the museum project’s criticism.
“I had a 30-minute teleconference with Mrs Lam conveying my concern to her, including the expected criticism she would get due to not having a public consultation,” he recalled saying after learning of the project in early November.
He reiterated the warning at a November 28 board meeting, which saw the board vote unanimously for the project.
Kan acknowledged there were “many shortcomings” with the HK$21.6 billion WKCD hub, and asked the arts and cultural community to “have mercy” on the Palace Museum project.
“I understand the need for public consultation. But this is a special case that is impossible to do a public consultation on,” he said.
The authority’s board is set to meet at 2:30pm Tuesday, with the public consultation to get underway shortly afterwards.
“A little more time is necessary to make adequate preparation to handle this issue, and I feel tired for those who work on this,” he said.