Vacant seats damage HK's image, say lawmakers - and one wants Mike Rowse to resign Legislators have called for an investigation into Harbour Fest's disappointing ticket sales, with some saying the event runs the risk of embarrassing, rather than promoting, Hong Kong before an international audience. The shows were launched on Friday night by Prince, who played to a near-capacity audience at the Tamar site - but only after more than 1,000 seats had been removed from the arena, admitted James Thompson, chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce which is organising the shows. Tickets had also been given away, Mr Thompson said on Saturday. The next concert, for British singer Craig David on Saturday night, only appeared to be about 30 per cent full. Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing said Legco's financial affairs panel would ask officials including Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen to explain the problem. No official attendance figures have been released by AmCham. 'I really don't know how this can be solved. It makes the whole event look even more embarrassing if the venue doesn't have much audience, but it is also unfair for those who pay for their tickets,' Ms Lau said, referring in part to the free tickets. She urged the organisers to intensify the promotion campaign for the remaining shows, which include performances by Jose Carreras and Charlotte Church tonight, and the Rolling Stones, who will close the event with concerts on November 7 and 9. Ms Lau, of The Frontier, described the situation as 'totally ridiculous', and said the government should launch an investigation to see if there had been any negligence. Taxpayers stand to lose up to $100 million, depending on how bad sales are, with the government's investment promotion arm, InvestHK, picking up the bill out of its $1 billion war chest to help Hong Kong bounce back from Sars. Democratic Party legislator Andrew Cheng Kar-foo yesterday called for Mike Rowse, head of InvestHK, to resign over his handling of Harbour Fest. Mr Cheng said: 'His work is to promote Hong Kong, but Harbour Fest is a mess. He tarnishes Hong Kong's image in the international community.' The legislator also blasted AmCham for having to resort to giving away tickets, saying this was unfair on fans who paid. 'Who is going to buy tickets in future? No one, because people know the government will give them to you if you insist on not buying,' he said. Choy So-yuk of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong said: 'If InvestHK wants to promote Hong Kong, it could have paid for more commercials on overseas television. It doesn't make sense that they pay for the Rolling Stones and wish that by doing this, they can promote Hong Kong. This is nonsense. 'But Mike Rowse shouldn't be blamed for this. He is not the only one working on the project; there are a group of people. To resolve the present embarrassment, AmCham should urge its members to buy as many tickets as they can.' Liberal Party legislator Tommy Cheung Yu-yan said: 'Organising a concert is risky. No experienced organiser would try to sort out a concert in such a short period.' Neither Mr Rowse nor AmCham were available for comment.