West Kowloon Cultural District

Protesters link government’s Palace Museum ‘exhibition’ to memory of bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown

Disputes break out between demonstrators and commuters over planned museum

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 January, 2017, 4:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 January, 2017, 12:13pm

Controversy surrounding a proposed Hong Kong museum project continued to snowball on Monday as demonstrators took advantage of a government “exhibition” depicting Beijing’s Palace Museum to remember the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown.

The Hong Kong government has been slammed with public criticism since Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on December 23 announced the city would build its own version of Beijing’s Palace Museum at the West Kowloon Cultural District, without going through a public consultation exercise.

The government has since denied that a massive wall display of Beijing’s Palace Museum between Central and Hong Kong MTR stations was an advertisement for the museum plan. The government instead labelled it as an “exhibition”.

Hong Kong Palace Museum consultation delayed as authority moves to address public criticism

However, taking advantage of the publicity surrounding the museum controversy and the imagery between the MTR stations, Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China staged a protest urging Beijing to vindicate the 1989 student movement and release all political prisoners. The alliance organises an annual candlelight vigil to commemorate the crackdown.

“When we see the palace, what pops up in our mind is not the relics, but the tanks outside it,” alliance secretary Lee Cheuk-yan said. Lee was previously banned from entering the mainland following the crackdown.

“We would never forget the moment when the tanks entered Tiananmen Square with [army] shooting at unarmed citizens and students.”

Publicity drummed up by the museum row and the huge images of the palace, Lee said, had given them the opportunity to “recreate what happened in Tiananmen Square” 28 years ago, allowing Hongkongers to get more of an idea of the history.

Politics should not get in the way of Palace Museum project

While some commuters, including a number of mainland tourists, made curious glances at the protesters, sporadic disputes also broke out between protesters and supporters of the Hong Kong museum plan.

MTR staff built a human chain to ensure smooth passage for travellers.

Separately, Financier Conscience, a group of pro-democracy financial practitioners also protested at the same venue, condemning Chief Secretary Lam for neglecting “procedural justice”, and urged the government to shelve the museum plan.

Lee said it was “totally unacceptable” for the government to build the Palace Museum without consulting Hongkongers, and accused the plan of being dictated by Beijing.

Meanwhile, pan-democratic lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching on Monday reported the museum case to the graft-buster by accusing Lam of misconduct in public office. Mo suggested there might be a transfer of benefits after the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority admitted that it had engaged architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee months before it officially approved the museum plan.