20 February 2019
Carrie Lam has defended the Palace Museum project and accused critics of launching unfair attacks on her. Photo: Reuters
Carrie Lam has defended the Palace Museum project and accused critics of launching unfair attacks on her. Photo: Reuters

Museum project being used to launch personal attacks: Lam

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam said on Tuesday that “some people” were using the Hong Kong Palace Museum project to launch personal attacks against her.

Speaking at the launch of a six-week public consultation on the museum plan, Lam said the personal attacks started when she announced last month that she was reconsidering whether to join the upcoming chief executive election, RTHK reports.

Lam heads the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), the agency that oversees a cultural hub project which will now include a Hong Kong version of Beijing’s famed Palace Museum.

Lam announced the museum plan all of a sudden last month, triggering a controversy. 

On Tuesday, the chief secretary rejected criticisms of the project and urged people not to politicize the initiative, which will help Hong Kong secure priceless imperial relics from China.

The museum project will be good for Hong Kong, Lam said, adding that she is “excited and honored” to be among those who are implementing it.

Lam announced the HK$3.5 billion project during a visit to Beijing last month. Since then, she has faced a lot of criticism, with people asking why there was no prior public consultation on the plan.

To respond to the public’s concerns, Lam said Tuesday that the government has issued a 16-page document that answers 32 questions about the plan.

They relate to, among others, as to why the government signed a preliminary agreement with mainland authorities before announcing the plan, and why the West Kowloon Cultural District was chosen for the construction of the museum.

Information has also been provided on the issue of appointment of the museum’s designer, as well as its construction and operational costs.

Lam added that there was “nothing new” about the government consulting the public after a decision had been made to launch a project.

WKCDA, meanwhile, revealed Tuesday that it gave Rocco Yim HK$4.5 million as a preliminary consultation fee before appointing him as the architect to lead the Palace Museum project.

As the contract amount was less than HK$5 million, there was no need for public tendering or board approval, the agency said, according to RTHK.

Lawmaker Edward Yiu, who represents the architectural and surveying sector, was quoted as saying that it only raises more questions.

Yim defended the decision to appoint him directly without a tender, pointing out that it is not an uncommon practice in the world when it comes to culture-related projects.

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