The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority did not notify its consultation panel before announcing last Friday that it would build the HK$3.5 billion Hong Kong Palace Museum, one of the panel members has revealed.

The adviser Ada Wong Ying-Kay, who founded the Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture, said Tuesday that she only found out about the decision when the Authority made the announcement last week.

Ada Wong Ying-Kay
Ada Wong Ying-Kay. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

Lack of consultation

The consultation panel – established under the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Ordinance – ensures a transparent consultation and gathers public views on matters related to the functions of the Authority. It consists of members from different sectors, with meetings open to the public.

Wong questioned the Authority’s decision to avoid consulting the panel and the public on the billion-dollar project.

“If it is a good proposal, why didn’t they communicate with us sooner?” Wong said. “The government should tell us why it chose to inform Hong Kong people in this manner. It should explain why it didn’t begin the consultation process sooner, whether West Kowloon is the best site, and who will lead the project.”

beijing palace museum
Beijing’s Palace Museum. File Photo: XiaoXiao1999, via Pixabay.

Wong added that she would not oppose the idea, as the culture presented by Beijing’s Palace Museum is at the root of “traditional Chinese culture.” The Palace Museum also provides visitors with a valuable learning experience in terms of culture and architecture, she said.

But Wong expressed hope that the new museum would be directed by Hongkongers. She also urged the government to explain whether it intends to present 5,000 years of Chinese culture from the Hong Kong perspective.

Last Friday, Chief Secretary Carrie Lam announced that the Hong Kong government has signed a cooperation agreement with Beijing’s Palace Museum to build a museum at the West Kowloon Cultural District.

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Chief Executive Leung Chung-ying said the Palace Museum is “one of the most influential museums” in the world, and that Hongkongers who have been to the museum are proud to be Chinese.

The Hong Kong Palace Museum will display antiques from the Forbidden City on a long-term basis, as well as relics related to the history and life at the palace. It will cover a 30,000 metre square area next to the waterfront.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has agreed to donate HK$3.5 billion in funds towards construction and to the preparation of exhibitions.

Construction is set to begin in late 2017, and is expected to be completed by 2022.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.