Retired High Court judge William Waung Sik-ying has criticised the new public engagement exercise for the Hong Kong Palace Museum, saying that it is not a public consultation at all.
Waung was the first visitor to the public consultation site at the City Gallery in Central on Wednesday. The six-week public consultation, inviting citizen’s views on its design and operation, was set up after the project led by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam came under fire for a lack of public input.
Speaking to reporters, Waung said: “This is not a public consultation. Public consultation means that, if the public oppose it, the project will not go ahead. Can I choose that option? There is no such option.”
Waung, also a board director of the Hong Kong Maritime Museum, said he visited because he wanted to see more information, but there were only 12 boards at the Gallery, which he said was inadequate.
He did not oppose the idea of a Palace Museum, but said it did not have to be at the West Kowloon Cultural District. The project is supported with a HK$3.5 billion donation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club. It will replace plans for a mega performance venue.
“If the Hong Kong Jockey Club is willing to pay, China is willing to give [exhibits] to the Hong Kong Palace Museum, it’s fine. But it does not have to be West Kowloon, why take away the mega theatre?” he said.
He said he did not agree with Lam’s statement that the direct appointment of architect Rocco Yim, and using Jockey Club’s funds, was an acceptable measure. He said the funds from the Jockey Club should also be considered public money.
“Isn’t the Jockey Club’s money Hongkongers’ money? Some people gamble more, some people gamble less, but all of it is Hongkongers’ money,” he said.
He took a questionnaire from the consultation saying he will look into it at home.
Another retiree also visited the consultation and said it was “a bit boring, and too politicised.”
“It will be difficult for the government to do things, how can everything be open to the public? [The Palace Museum] is good for everyone,” he said.