Hong Kong Fur Federation Director Fritz Chen has called the fur industry “environmentally friendly” during a radio programme on Tuesday. His comments were criticised by Non-Profit Making Veterinary Service Society Director Mark Mak, who said that certain chemicals produced when processing fur are carcinogenic pollutants.

Commercial Radio invited both Chen and Mak to discuss the fur industry on their show on Tuesday morning. Chen said that the industry uses “renewable resources” on the planet, and most of the animals are reared, not captured, from the wild, RTHK reported. “It’s even more environmentally friendly than eating fish,” Chen said. “No animal will become extinct because of the fur industry.”

Chen speaking on a Commercial radio programme. Photo: Stand News.

He also said that it was impossible to skin an animal alive, as the fur would be damaged if the animal put up a struggle. Therefore, carbon monoxide or electroshock is used to “painlessly” end the animal’s life in accordance with European Union standards, Stand News reported him as saying.

Mark Mak, Director of NPV.

After the interview, Mak said on Facebook that Chen refused to speak to him in person on the show and, as a result, he only gave a phone interview during the session. However, he was still only given two minutes. “This is not even a discussion or a dialogue,” he said. “The show became a platform for the fur industry to defend their own actions.”

‘Inhumane suffering’

Mak said that formaldehyde and chromium are produced when processing fur – both of which are carcinogens which pollute the environment.

Mak also said that killing animals to satisfy one’s personal greediness was inhumane, and no matter what “humane” methods that they industry claim they employ, it still was not enough to clear their name. “All that suffering is facilitated by [the fur industry] promoting the trend of wearing fur,” Mak said. “You’re not only an accomplice – you’re the main culprit.”

Regina Ip in a mink coat.

In January, New People’s Party Chairperson Regina Ip came under fire for wearing a red mink coat to a Legislative Council meeting. She then told reporters that “farm[ing] animals and eating beef was about the same.” She was later awarded a thank you certificate by the Hong Kong Fur Federation for her efforts in promoting fur.

An ad for the fair at the Hong Kong International Airport. Photo: Alex Hofford.

The federation is also the organiser of the Hong Kong International Fur & Fashion Fair, which will be held next week.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.