Flawed poll sees new faces on Hong Kong's Arts Development Council
Only one-third of registered voters turn out to select members of funding body and they encounter faulty ballots and leave votes blank
Elections to the body that funds the city's arts organisations concluded in chaos, with nine new faces chosen in a poll marred by faulty and blank ballot papers and a count that went on until yesterday afternoon.
The exercise to choose the 10 elected members of the 27-member Arts Development Council also came amid fears that the body was being pushed to the sidelines with just a fraction of the funding available to a fully appointed government body.
Representatives of the 10 arts disciplines - administration, criticism, education, dance, drama, film, literature, music, visual arts and Chinese opera - were chosen by 2,884 voters, or 33.9 per cent of 8,512 registered voters.
But they are not yet officially members as the government regards the poll as a nomination process with the winners "for the chief executive's consideration of appointment as members of the ADC for the next term".
One new face, Anthony Wong Chau-sang, winner of the best stage play actor gong at the Huading Awards in Macau on Monday, said changes were needed to preserve the council's role.
"[The ADC] is getting only the crumbs of a pie," said Wong, who ousted drama veteran Ko Tin-lung. "It has been pushed to the periphery. If it wasn't for this election, this council might even vanish quietly next year."
According to the Home Affairs Bureau, HK$98 million in public funding is earmarked for the council in 2013-2014 to fund grant schemes and arts projects. By contrast, the Advisory Committee on Arts Development, set up two years ago, has HK$337.4 million for the same period.
The turnout was up 6.9 per cent from the previous vote two years ago and the election featured competition across all disciplines, continuing a trend started after 2004, when six candidates were unopposed.
In 2010, the now-ousted Ko was the only one who won without competition.
Chinese Artists Association director Lau Wai-ming topped the poll with 1,828 votes to beat pro-Beijing district councillor Jennifer Chow Kit-bing in the Chinese opera sector.
Commenting on the blank votes, Lau said some voters might not have been aware they could vote in each of the 10 sectors.
"Many might have left the sector they are not familiar with blank. It is unfair to candidates whose sectors do not gain much attention from society," she said.
As well as blank votes, the election was marred by binding errors in the ballot papers.
Andrew Fung Wai-kwong, chief of organiser PR Concepts, apologised for the errors. "The printing company made a big binding mistake and we found that 10 sets of ballots had problems," he said.
When voting was over, it took five hours until 5am to sort out the problems, but he said "settlement has been agreed by the candidates who participated in our special meeting in the morning".
HOW THEY VOTED
Arts Development Council results (votes):
Ribble Chung Siu-mui - arts administrator (1,247)
Lo Wai-luk - critic, associate professor at Baptist University's Academy of Film (1,278)
Leung Sung-yum - teacher, Hong Kong Society of Education in Art (1,293)
Mui Cheuk-yin - dance choreographer, four-time winner of Hong Kong Dance Award (1,224)
Anthony Wong Chau-sang - actor, chairman of Academy for Performing Arts Alumni Association (936)
Ellen Pau - video artist, founder and director of Videotage (1,370)
Ng Mei-kwan - author, senior lecturer at HKU Space Community College (1,385)
Barbara Fei - soprano, ADC music committee chairman (871)
Chan Kam-shing - ceramics artist, design director, former director of 1a Space (930)
Chinese opera (Xiqu)
Lau Wai-ming - Cantonese opera artist, The Chinese Artists Association of Hong Kong executive committee (1,828)