Arts prize winner works with judge

Lawmaker calls for inquiry into HK$50,000 award for film critic who slammed Hongkongers

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 February, 2013, 4:25am

The Arts Development Council (ADC) defended its first ever Critic's Prize yesterday after the winner of the HK$50,000 award turned out to have connections with at least two of the six judges.

Jia Xuanning, a 24-year-old journalist, won the award for a controversial review of Hong Kong director Pang Ho-cheung's film Vulgaria.

The piece sparked outrage and stirred cross-border tensions when she accused the movie of having "degraded mainlanders to make Hongkongers feel good, and has presented the narrowness, opportunism and pretentiousness of the Hong Kong people".

Legislator Claudia Mo Man-ching said she was concerned about the potential conflict of interests and would be putting the matter to the Legislative Council and requesting an investigation.

"I remain doubtful about the result as the assessment process is not transparent, " Mo said. "I am concerned that there may be public resources being used for private reasons … if the judges are related to the candidate directly."

As well as working for the pro-Beijing newspaper Wen Wei Po, Jia writes for Yazhou Zhoukan magazine - whose chief editor Yau Lop-poon was one of the ADC judges. Another judge Perry Lam is a columnist at the magazine.

A statement issued by ADC last night said the names of the writers were not shown to the judges during the competition to ensure fairness and impartiality.

"Throughout the assessment process, members of the judging panel make their judgment according to the quality and standard of the work itself, without making any reference to the participants," it said.

But many internet users remained unconvinced and suggested that Jia failed to appreciate the local culture and its tolerance towards different tastes and films.

Pang went online to dismiss Jia's claim that his film - which raked in HK$30 million - was "cultural garbage", and also denied it was a snub aimed at mainlanders.