Designer association slammed for self-censorship

August 11, 2016 14:23
A notice on the missing pages (left) appears on the album. An award-winning design is shown on the right. Photos: Facebook/Tomorrow Design Office

A Hong Kong industry association is under fire after it excluded two controversial works from an official album of this year's Global Design Awards.

Critics say the Hong Kong Designers Association (HKDA), which has been holding the biennial competition since 1975, exercised self-censorship in order not to offend China, Apple Daily reports. 

One of the works, titled Human Rights, was designed by TGIF Studio for Amnesty International.

The other was a collection of photos from the 2014 democracy protests commissioned by Ming Pao Weekly from Stanley Wong.

The two entries were left out of an album that was distributed to guests and sold to the public, even though Human Rights won a silver medal in the July 15 ceremony.

Ray Lau, design director of Tomorrow Design Office which exposed the incident on social media, said he sent letters to HKDA but did not get a reply.

Lau criticized the association for putting business before free speech, adding the incident disqualifies it from representing the Hong Kong design industry.

Meanwhile, Wong said he had been told by the HKDA that his work on the Umbrella Movement would not be published because the album would be distributed in mainland China.

In a Facebook post Thursday, the association apologized to the public.

It said the album was produced in collaboration with a mainland publisher which wanted certain parts withdrawn from publication.

And it was not the first time a mainland publisher had withdrawn material deemed not suitable for circulation in China, it said.

HKDA said it tried to put back the deleted pages in the Hong Kong edition of the album but it ran out of time.

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