Michael Lynch, former chief executive of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), said on Thursday that he is shocked at the way the government is pushing the Hong Kong Palace Museum project without proper consultations.
The recent chain of events related to the plan for a Hong Kong version of Beijing’s famed Palace Museum are a matter of concern, Lynch said.
By acting in undue haste, the government has gone against established procedures that lay emphasis on consultation, he said, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
Taking the criticism further, Lynch questioned the very idea of the Palace Museum initiative, arguing that the facility may not be consistent with the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) plan.
Speaking to Cable TV, Lynch said the way the proposal was brought to light by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, who is also the chairman of the board of the WKCDA, was unusual.
Lam’s handling of the issue was different from what her predecessors such as Henry Tang and Stephen Lam conducted themselves in such cases in the past, said Lynch.
He pointed out that Tang and Lam adhered closely to the WKCD protocols and would conduct public consultation on all matters related to the cultural facility, especially when it involved changes in plot ratios and height of buildings.
Replacing a large-scale performance area with a permanent palace museum is not in accordance with the mission of the WKCD, Lynch said.
The purpose of WKCD is to promote contemporary art and provide performance venues, he said. As for display of historical exhibits, there are other museums in Hong Kong that can play the role.
Lynch also hit out at the government’s direct appointment of an architect for the palace museum project. Construction works of famous museums overseas are usually awarded through open tenders or open competitions, even if the projects are not funded by government, he pointed out.
Lynch’s comments came after Lam announced last week, during a Beijing trip, that the Hong Kong government plans to build a palace museum at WKCD site.
She said the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s charities trust will fully fund the project and therefore it will not require the Legislative Council’s approval.
The news prompted criticism that the government was trying to bypass the Legco and put up a project that will please Beijing.
Amid the concerns, a law school student from the University of Hong Kong has launched a petition and is planning to file a judicial review next week to contest the government’s decision.
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