The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has announced a new television programme about the Palace Museum, amid controversial plans to build a counterpart museum at Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District.

The programme, In Touch with Palace Museum, is produced in conjunction with TVB and cost HK$3.8 million, Apple Daily reports. According to the government, it is the highlight of a campaign with the same name, launched by the department and the museum last November. The campaign runs for nine months and includes features and seminars involving the culture, art, history and architecture of the museum.

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The government announced a new TV show on the Palace Museum. Photo: Gov HK.

The four-episode show will premiere on TVB Jade this Saturday. The government said that it will highlight “the essence of traditional Chinese culture” and “shows the significant roles played by Hong Kong and the museum in historical relics’ conservation.”

The launch of the show on Tuesday came amid heated debate over controversial plan to construct a HK$3.5 billion Hong Kong Palace Museum at the West Kowloon Cultural District. Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, who is expected to enter the chief executive race, signed a cooperation agreement with Beijing’s Palace Museum last month.

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The museum will display antiques from the Forbidden City on a long-term basis. Construction is set to begin in late 2017, and is expected to be completed by 2022.

However, Ada Wong Ying-Kay, a member of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority’s consultation panel, said the panel was not notified of the decision before the government’s announcement last month. A group of people calling themselves JR Team – referring to “judicial review” – also started a petition urging a public consultation for the new museum at the West Kowloon Cultural District.

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At the TV programme launch on Tuesday. Photo: Gov HK.

‘A pleasant surprise’

Meanwhile, a number of groups have formed the Alliance in Support of Hong Kong Palace Museum to demonstrate their support towards the project. Convener William Chak kin-man said that the lack of consultation on the project by the government was in order to give a pleasant surprise to the Hong Kong people.

At the launch of the show, Deputy Director of Leisure & Cultural Services Louis Ng Chi-wa denied that the campaign was meant to promote or justify the decision to build the new museum, saying there was no such consideration at all. They had merely hoped to enter into a mutually-beneficial collaboration with the Palace Museum.

He also refused to comment on the museum controversy, saying that it was a West Kowloon Cultural District Authority initiative rather than a Leisure and Cultural Services project, Ming Pao reported.

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.