The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) is facing criticism for alleged censorship in relation to an exhibition hosted by one of its units.
Opposition activists accuse the government agency of altering some display materials in an exhibition of the LCSD’s Music Office, which has been commemorating its 40th anniversary.
Earlier, people who attended the roving exhibition were able to see a lot of materials — including photos, news clips and videos — that outlined the office’s past achievements and current services, as well as some historical displays.
But recently some materials were found tampered, according to observers.
Among the items altered were two forms of calendars that featured in old news clippings from Kung Sheung Yat Po (工商日報) and Wah Kiu Yat Po (華僑日報), which stopped publication in 1984 and 1995, respectively.
The two newspapers, which were considered to be close to the Government of the Republic of China in Taiwan back then, normally put western calendar and the Republic of China calendar (Mingguo) on the top of their pages (adding 1911 to Mingguo year yields the western number of year).
But recently, visitors to the LCSD exhibition found only “1977″ in the two news clippings, and that “66th year of the Republic”, or “Mingguo 66 year” were no longer there, Metro Daily reports.
Lawmaker Roy Kwong Chun-yu from the Democratic Party lashed out at the LCSD, accusing the department of disrespecting history by intentionally leaving out “Mingguo year”.
His Legco comrade Andrew Wan Siu-kin, meanwhile, wondered if the LCSD had played censor keeping in mind the wishes of Beijing.
Simon Chu Fuk-keung, a former director of the Government Records Service, also had some harsh words, saying tampering of the clips amounts to not facing up to history, Metro Daily reports.
Responding to the criticism, the LCSD said there was absolutely no political motive behind changes in the exhibits, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The department claimed that some alterations were made only for “layout design”, to make the clippings fit the size of the boards used in the exhibition.
It, however, admitted that some errors may have arisen inadvertently due to the layout and design changes in the exhibits. The Music Office will try to arrange some corrections, it said.
Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying, who chairs Hong Kong Culture Monitor, a non-profit policy monitoring and advocacy group, said it is not the first time the LCSD conducted self-censorship.
The expert pointed out that the department had in the past removed the word “National” from the name of a Taiwan school in its publication.
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