Art dealers, collectors give support to Museum proposal

Local | Phoebe Ng 4 Jan 2017

A group of art collectors and dealers formed an alliance to defend the building of a Palace Museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District, describing the project as "a dream comes true," but shunned questions about the plan bypassing public consultation.

"We would like to see the plan carried out as soon as possible," said William Chak Kin-man, chairman of the Alliance in Support of Hong Kong Palace Museum.

"We cannot see anything unsatisfactory in the plan. The cultural sector has been waiting for a museum as such for decades."

But when asked about their views on how the plan bypassed public consultation, the alliance said that is the government's business.

"We have no political stance or affiliation as a group," alliance honorary secretary Eddy Li Sau-hung said. "It is not our job to deal with any procedural and technical problems."

He said the alliance also welcomed the plan to include an exhibition area for private collectors in the museum, adding they have been struggling to find space to share private collections with the public for years.

A former member of the Election Committee, Lee Kok-keung, said the move will boost Hong Kong's reputation in the cultural and tourism industry.

He slammed critics for contradicting themselves, as they called Hong Kong a "cultural desert" yet rejected the plan to build a replica of Beijing's Palace Museum in the arts hub, which he described as "water in a desert."

Another group member, Kevin Ching Sau-hong, chief executive of Sotheby's Asia, believes those in charge should be left alone to do what they think is correct for Hong Kong.

The alliance described the Palace Museum as "a dream comes true" and said it would be a shame if the plan could not go ahead.

Meanwhile, Ada Wong Ying-kay, an advisory committee member of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, revealed that the authority will be discussing the project this month. Wong told a radio program she was notified by the authority that the meeting would either be on January 12 or 18.

Wong said she is not expecting the authority to re-consult the public on the museum deal, but stressed that public involvement will still be essential in future. Louis Ng Chi-wa, deputy culture director of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, said he welcome the Palace Museum plan, which is not an LCSD project, as it will give a boost to the museum industry in Hong Kong.

He also said Chinese artifacts have long been popular with the Hong Kong public. Meanwhile, a new documentary about the Forbidden Palace, In Touch with Palace Museum, which is co- produced by the LCSD and TVB, will be shown on Saturday.

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