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Transcript of remarks at press conference on launch of public consultation on Hong Kong Palace Museum
     The Chief Secretary for Administration and Chairman of the Board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), Mrs Carrie Lam, was joined by the Chief Executive Officer of the WKCDA, Mr Duncan Pescod; Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs, Mrs Betty Fung; Deputy Director of Leisure and Cultural Services (Culture), Dr Louis Ng; and former Deputy Director of Architectural Services Mr Stephen Tang today (January 10) at a WKCDA press conference on the launch of public consultation on the Hong Kong Palace Museum. Following is the transcript of remarks at the press conference:
Reporter: Mrs Lam, how practical and useful is this public consultation? After all, can we object building this museum at all and ask for a change in the architect? You mentioned you're also a proactive official. Do you mean that you like to sign a deal and secure a deal with Beijing first and then ask Hong Kong people's view on that? Is that how you would like to lead Hong Kong? Thank you.
Chief Secretary for Administration: Well, any project of this scale or by extension any major policy initiative has to go through a process. This is nothing unusual. So, we conceive policy initiatives from time to time, we prepare for Policy Addresses, we prepare for annual Budgets, and most of these exercises are done in a confidential manner until we are ready to disclose and announce, and then we listen to public opinion. That is the very usual way of doing government policy work.
     So as far as the Hong Kong Palace Museum project is concerned, I have explained at length why the process of discussions and preparation has to be undertaken in a confidential manner until the signing of the memorandum of understanding, because the signing of the memorandum of understanding is the first step to signify the formality of this collaboration. But it has to be followed through by a collaborative agreement to be signed within the next six months. So the public consultation that we are about to launch will have a very meaningful purpose of giving us views, comments on how we should craft this collaborative agreement in terms of the actual operation of the Hong Kong Palace Museum. And also, on the other hand, like all other museums all over the world, the building of the museum itself is a very important matter, so in the second part of this press conference the design consultant, Mr Rocco Yim, will also share with the media and with members of the public the design concepts that will guide him in designing this very important museum project for Hong Kong.
Reporter: So you appointed or you asked Rocco in May, not out of self-interest. But Rocco has been involved in a number of projects for the Government, including the Tamar site. He's the authorised person, was the authorised person at Central Police Station. And he's made a failed bid for the master plan of the West Kowloon Cultural District. The Central Police Station had a collapse of a monument and he's the authorised person. Tamar had the scandal of the legionnaire's disease. He made a failed bid for the master plan. His bid was a very Sino-centric master plan, a very Chinese look to the whole site. So if it wasn't a personal interest that you appointed Rocco, then what's the architectural criteria, apart from the fact that he is Chinese and a respected Hong Kong architect? What are the architectural merits? Are there no other Hong Kong architects?
Chief Secretary for Administration: I wouldn't argue with you whether there are other Hong Kong architects, but, John, the question you asked is something that really saddens me. On this very important project, I said many times that people could be unhappy with me, people could challenge me, criticise me or humiliate me, but please do not smear the important institutions that get this place going.
     Rocco Yim's practice, Rocco Design Architects, RDA, is a very renowned architectural practice in Hong Kong. Through open bidding, RDA has obtained many works, both in Hong Kong and in the Mainland. I give you an additional project which I'm sure you'll love to quote next time when you ask this question. Rocco Yim is the design architect for our East Kowloon Cultural Centre, because it's a wonderful design that many people like and it satisfied the selection panel of the Government. So please don't try to smear individuals or important institutions, including some critics I heard in the Legislative Council about attacking the Hong Kong Jockey Club for giving us this wonderful donation of $3.5 billion to build this museum, saying that “there must be a conspiracy behind it”. This is not doing Hong Kong any good. We need to move on with confidence, with trust, and I really make an appeal, especially you are an art critic. Don't try to make all these unnecessary and unjustified associations to try to attack this very important project for Hong Kong. Thank you very much.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Tuesday, January 10, 2017
Issued at HKT 23:00
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