The controversy surrounding pro-democracy singer Denise Ho Wan-see and the French cosmetic brand Lancôme may have a new twist as the company’s Hong Kong chief is set to retire soon.

Lancôme cancelled a concert with Ho after the state-backed Global Times linked Ho with Hong Kong and Tibetan independence movements – topics she has rarely spoken on. Ho had said that the only reply from the company to her was that she will receive compensation for the cancelled event.

Staff members of the brand’s parent group L’Oréal received an internal email at the end of last month saying that its president and director general for Hong Kong, Stephen Mosely, will be retiring at the end of June, reported Apple Daily. Ming Pao also reported Mosely’s imminent departure last Saturday, citing sources.

Stephen Mosely. Photo: L’Oréal.

Mosely was to be replaced by Eva Yu, Managing Director of L’Oréal Luxe Travel Retail Asia Pacific, according to the internal email.

Ho had also tried to contact Mosely himself, but without success.

She told Apple Daily that it was similar to the case of police officer Frankly Chu King-wai, who was accused of using unnecessary force when he batoned pedestrians during the pro-democracy Occupy protests in 2014. Chu retired without being charged.

“The relevant group uses the excuse of the responsible person retiring to make it difficult for people to follow up, so that the incident will end without ever being resolved,” she said.

Denise Ho. File Photo: Cloud/Stand News.

Ho added that Hong Kong people could not accept the incident disappearing without any response, as they were sick of the Chief Executive, top officials or the police employing this practice in the past two years.

Ho was a prominent supporter of the protests in 2014 and was arrested then released without charge.

A petition by a retired French philosophy teacher addressed to Mosely has gathered more than 80,000 signatures online as of Monday morning.

Last week, pro-democracy political parties and activists protested at a Lancôme booth in a mall in Causeway Bay. The booth and other stores of the brand were closed on that day.

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.