Sackings highlight Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra's systemic problems

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 April, 2015, 4:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 16 April, 2015, 4:27pm

I read with interest the article ("The Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra crisis reveals a deep distrust", April 5) and would like to respond.

As the legislator specialising in cultural policy and governance of public bodies, I have urged the government to respond to the sudden termination of the three Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra leading musicians.

This is not the first time the management of the HKCO has drawn public attention, yet the situation has only deteriorated since the chastising by the 2010 Director of Audit's report. Rather than a mere distrust or dispute between management and musicians, there is a systemic issue within the HKCO.

Since the corporatisation of the HKCO in 2001, over 50 musicians have left the orchestra. In my opinion, the three have put their artistic career on the line in an attempt to secure the long-term well-being of the HKCO. It is deeply regrettable to see the issue unresolved.

After the trio publicised their complaints, the HKCO council showed a lack of sincerity in approaching the musicians. While saying the council is open to dialogue, in its statement, the council denounced the musicians for not using internal channels for communication, which actually do not exist, and gave full support to the directors in question and reaffirmed "their indisputable merits in their capacities as directors of the orchestra".

How does this reaction demonstrate that the council is acting responsibly and is ready to resolve the issue objectively? How is the abrupt dismissal of the three leading musicians evidence of good corporate governance?

The HKCO receives HK$58 million in government subvention, but the Home Affairs Bureau has not expressed any intention to investigate the issue.

When the government decided to subsidise the HKCO, one of its policy goals was the proper management of public funding. In the 2010 audit, the judgments and abuses of the HKCO directors were questioned. Clearly, the HKCO has deviated from its original policies but the same people remain in office. The Home Affairs Bureau must look into the HKCO's governance crisis.

However reluctantly, the Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing needs to take up the issue by inviting the trio to share their insights.

Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, legislative councillor