Pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao criticised singer Denise Ho Wan-see in two commentaries published on Wednesday, amid a controversy over Lancôme’s decision to cancel a concert featuring the pro-democracy star.

The French cosmetics giant cancelled the event after Chinese state mouthpiece Global Times linked Ho with Hong Kong and Tibetan independence movements. Citing possible safety concerns, she was dropped as a brand ambassador, sparking anger and boycott threats from the Hong Kong public. The newspaper published an editorial on Tuesday supporting Lancôme’s decision.

Wednesday’s Ta Kung Pao commentary said that Ho had attempted to link politics with commercial activity, and that her rebuttal to Lancôme’s decision amounted to “throwing a tantrum.” It claimed that she was not acting like a normal singer.

Photo: Wikicommons.

“Attempting to launch boycott actions sends a very bad message to international investors: everything in Hong Kong can be politicised,” it read.

It also criticised Ho, saying she branded herself as the “representative of freedom and justice”.

“[After] demonising foreign companies, will any foreign company dare to use Hong Kong’s politicised artists?” it asked. “Denise Ho challenged and parodied international brands, violated the professional ethics of Hong Kong artists, and also the value of following Hong Kong laws, went against international trends, broke the principle of commercial freedom, such a ‘boycott’ will certainly end in failure.”

‘Political artist’

Another commentary said Ho had branded herself as a political victim, but she herself was a political artist that she supported the pro-democracy Occupy protests of 2014 and posted a photo of herself with the Dalai Lama last month.

Photo: Denise Ho.

“Maybe [she] needs to reflect on the relationship between expressing political views and the consumer market that an artist relies on,” it read. “It is always a controversial matter for celebrities to participate in political movements and make political statements. In recent years, Hong Kong has constantly been politicised, society has paid a price for it. Denise Ho should have felt it herself too.”

It added Chinese netizens also have the right to express discontent towards Ho.

“With the boycott they called, they were implementing their ‘voting rights’ as consumers,” it said.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.