High time culture bosses owned this

Editorial | 19 Sep 2017

Absurdities may be commonplace, but I've never thought the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority could be so absurd.

Read its press statement, issued after a man died and three others passed out during the weekend Road to Ultra music festival. It totally ignored the presence of psychotropic drugs at its site, when a variety of such substances - including ecstasy - was found littered around.

The statement started by saying the authority was very concerned about the medical emergencies that occurred during the RTU. Then it went on to regret that four people were sent to hospital due to heat stroke. Note the words "medical emergencies" and "heat stroke."

The presence of such drugs also makes a mockery of Road to Ultra organizers' own claims, as exhibited in its own poster, of a zero tolerance for drug-taking.

Alas, I realize authority chief executive Duncan Pescod and his spin doctors were only concerned about heat stroke, and had absolutely no interest in the drug abuse on its property.

The omission was deliberate, which couldn't have been more pathetic for an official statement that, in the first place, should have never taken them so long to release. The incident occurred on Saturday, but the response didn't come until Sunday evening.

This was probably the worst press statement I've ever read.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, who remains the authority chairman before former chief secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen takes over next month, should come forward with a proper statement if his subordinate was so unwilling to do so.

The authority couldn't be wrong to argue the event on its Nursery Park was organized by an outsider who had few ties with it - except for the contract that gave the event organizer the right to use the venue in accordance with agreed terms.

The organizer was surely responsible for the peace and safety of the function. But the landlord - thus the authority - was also duty bound. Haven't there been a number of cases where flats used for drug crimes were closed by the courts and landlords?

It's assumed that landlords are also partly responsible for what happens on their property.

There can be only two probable motives for the absurdity: either to cover up the seriousness of the incident, or to confuse the media and public. It's totally unacceptable in either case.

As of yesterday, three people remained in critical condition, including a young woman being kept alive on life support.

While it isn't uncommon for psychotropic drugs to make their way to concerts elsewhere in the world, this can be a growing concern here, as the SAR is preparing for other popular events.

One of The Standard's reporters was there on Saturday, and according to her, the air was thick with the smell of marijuana.

The policy to use West Kowloon for pop concerts is sound and should be encouraged, because many of our youths may not be interested in modern and classical arts.

However, the authority is expected to display a higher degree of responsibility at the same time.

Search Archive

Advanced Search
July 2018

Today's Standard

Yearly Magazine

Yearly Magazine