Potential racial bias in hiring of architect Yim

Top News | Phoebe Ng 12 Jan 2017

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority might have violated the racial discrimination ordinance over its controversial hiring of an architect to build the Palace Museum project, according to the Equal Opportunities Commission.

The WKCDA board said in its 16-page document that it had considered whether the candidate was a local Chinese and could understand Chinese culture and arts when appointing Rocco Yim Sen-kee.

When asked whether it involved racial discrimination, the Equal Opportunities Commission said it could be illegal if employers only consider a certain racial group when hiring, unless only that particular group qualifies for the job.

However, it added, employers will have to prove how the required qualification applies to the job under such circumstances.

On top of that, the exhibition on the Palace Museum project received generally negative reviews when it opened yesterday.

Retired High Court judge William Waung Sik-ying - the first visitor at City Gallery in Central - said it was a "very bad exhibition."

Just up to 20 people viewed the exhibition, part of a six-week public engagement exercise, in the two hours that The Standard spent at the gallery.

"If it is a consultation, the project will have to be discarded if the public is opposed to the idea," Waung said.

Waung, who is also a board director at the Maritime Museum, said it was "not right" and "problematic" to directly appoint architect Yim as the design consultant.

"Even if the project will be paid for by the [Hong Kong] Jockey Club, it is still public money because their income comes from betting," Waung said. "I would have expected the government to take the consultation seriously."

The Jockey Club is supposed to foot the HK$3.5 billion price tag for designing and building the museum.

"Building a Palace Museum is not necessarily a bad idea," Waung said. "But it does not have to be at West Kowloon."

A barrister surnamed Yeung was also unhappy with the contents of the exhibition. And on the project itself he said there was no "procedural justice."

Yeung added: "The exhibition is filled with only the good things about the [Palace Museum in Beijing]. This so-called consultation would not really change anything."

A retiree said he was not against the project itself but would like to be consulted first.

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