Hong Kong gigs

Fans of British, US musicians arrested in Hong Kong raise HK$68,000 to pay for return trip to face immigration officials

Crowdfunding drive to cover cost of TTNG and Mylets’ return to city to learn whether they face prosecution exceeds HK$50,000 target within 24 hours; fans still split on who to blame for their arrest

PUBLISHED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 12:13pm
UPDATED : Monday, 15 May, 2017, 12:13pm

Fans of the British and American musicians arrested at indie Hong Kong venue Hidden Agenda this month for performing without visas have raised the funds they need to pay for their return to Hong Kong next month, when they’ll discover if they will be charged with a criminal offence.

British band This Town Needs Guns (TTNG) and American musician Mylets last Friday launched a drive on crowdfunding site GoFundMe to raise £5,000 (HK$50,190) to cover their travelling costs. The target was reached within 24 hours, with many of the donations coming from Hong Kong. By Monday morning, the amount raised had hit £6,740.

The three members of TTNG and multi-instrumentalist Mylets were detained in a dramatic raid on May 7 by immigration officials and police equipped with riot shields and dogs. They are suspected to have breached their conditions of stay in Hong Kong by performing at the Kwun Tong venue without work visas.

Foreign musicians, club owner and two others arrested at Hong Kong indie music venue are released on bail

All four were released on bail on May 8 and told to report back to immigration officials on June 5, and were allowed to leave Hong Kong in the meantime. TTNG returned to the UK on May 9 and Mylets to the US on May 10.

Three other people arrested at the same time – Hidden Agenda founder Hui Chung-wo, a club employee and an audience member – were also released from police custody on May 8 and must report back to police next month to discover whether or not they will face charges.

Many Hong Kong fans of the musicians offered their support on a TTNG Facebook post announcing the crowdfunding drive.

“Please accept our apologies. As a Hong Konger, I feel shameful and sad about the incident, and we hope that this won’t affect your passion towards music. This has nothing to do with you but our government, please continue to make the best music,” wrote fan Shelby Ho.

However, another fan, Manny Manzano, wrote: “The HK organisers should be the ones shouldering all the damage. Why did they allow TTNG/Mylets to play in the first place if they knew that a visa/permit is required?”

Visitors working illegally in Hong Kong face up to two years’ imprisonment and a maximum fine of HK$50,000 upon conviction, while employers are subject to a maximum of three years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to HK$350,000.

The May 7 incident was the latest in a series of raids on the club, which is in an industrial building and has struggled with licensing issues.

British band freed after arrest in Hong Kong for visa breach say city officials should give more room for music to flourish

The Lands Department has refused to grant Hidden Agenda a public entertainment licence, saying that running a live music venue in an industrial building would be a breach of lease conditions. The venue has officially operated as a takeaway food stall since being granted a food factory licence from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.