Lancome scandal

Lancome scraps Hong Kong concert with Denise Ho: online backlash over move to distance itself from pro-democracy star

Singer was invited to perform at promotional event, but cosmetics firm then said she was not its spokeswoman before cancelling the event

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 June, 2016, 9:16pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 June, 2016, 10:08am

Pro-democracy Canto-pop star Denise Ho Wan-sze has urged cosmetics giant Lancome to explain why it cancelled a promotional concert with her after mainland internet users criticised her political stance.

The company had invited Ho to host the mini-concert in Sheung Wan on June 19. The event, which was free of charge, was fully booked.

But a day after Beijing newspaper Global Times wrote on Weibo condemning Lancome for “inviting Ho – a Hong Kong and Tibet independence advocate – to promote their products in Hong Kong”, Lancome issued two statements on Sunday. The first said Ho was not the brand’s spokeswoman, and the second that the concert would be cancelled, citing “possible safety reasons”.

Canto-pop star Denise Ho vows to fight on for democracy despite mainland backlash

On Monday afternoon, Ho wrote on her Facebook page, saying that Lancome’s statements and decision to cancel the concert had “seriously misled the public and tarnished my personal reputation”.

“I express my extreme regret [about Lancome’s announcements],” Ho wrote. “I understood that the decisions were made by the brand’s head office in France, and I urge it to come clean on the decision, to clear my name and give the public a reasonable explanation.”

“The world’s values have been seriously twisted when we have to be punished for seeking freedom, justice and equality, and we must face the problem seriously when an international brand like Lancome has to kneel down to this bullying hegemony,” she added.

Ho is well-known for pushing political causes which rail against Beijing. The Global Times’s mention of her support for Tibet was apparently referring to Ho’s meeting with the Dalai Lama on her birthday last month. On May 13, three days after her 39th birthday, Ho posted pictures of herself and Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader on her personal Facebook page, writing: “It has been an unforgettable birthday. He is a sublime Venerable; a loving grandpa; and also a teacher who shares his wisdom. I could feel the blessing and energy rushing through my body just by holding his hands.”

The Dalai Lama, regarded as an arch-enemy by China, fled to India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959 and has remained there ever since. Beijing accuses him and his followers of trying to split Tibet from the mainland.

Canto-pop star Denise Ho meets Dalai Lama

Some internet users from the mainland also criticised Ho on her Facebook page.

Writing in simplified Chinese – which is used on the mainland but not Hong Kong – Luo Xuan said: “I don’t want to spend a dime on separating my country ... nor do I want the money I spent to become a sword for Tibetan separatists to create violence, terrorism or hurt my compatriots.”

Another internet user, Jiang Zhu, said: “Lancome is boycotted by the Chinese people because of you, you destroyed this corporation.”

Ho is blacklisted by mainland media along with singer Anthony Wong Yiu-ming and actor Anthony Wong Chau-sang, who also support democracy.