Independent music venue Hidden Agenda was raided on Tuesday night by police, hygiene and land officials, who demanded it to stop operating as a performance venue.

The raid took place during a concert by Canadian and Hong Kong bands Braids and So It Goes. A Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) official posed as a concert-goer, and purchased a ticket as evidence that the venue held performances without a place of public entertainment licence.

Publié par Hidden Agenda sur mardi 7 mars 2017

Videos of the incident showed concert-goers engaging in heated discussion with police, FEHD and Lands Department officials outside the venue.

The concert went ahead successfully after the disturbance. “Not even the police or the so-called government can ruin tonight for us,” said So It Goes on Facebook.

Food factory licence

Hidden Agenda has only opened at its current Kwun Tong location – the fourth in its history – since December, following a HK$500,000 public fundraiser. It returned its previous venue to its landlord after receiving multiple warnings from the Lands Department, which said that it had violated the terms of its land lease.

It now operates officially as a takeaway food stall, after successfully obtaining a food factory licence from the FEHD. It does not have a place of public entertainment licence, as it is located in an industrial building.

Photo: Yuen Chi-chung

Founder Hui Chung-wo said that he asked for advice from several government agencies, government art institutions and legislators before choosing the current operational arrangement.

“It doesn’t matter whether Hidden Agenda survives in the future,” wrote Hui on Tuesday. “It matters that the government has ignored the rights of industrial building users for so many years, and their contributions to Hong Kong’s cultural sector.”

Wow what a night! It seems only yesterday we looked up at the bands playing on the legendary Hidden Agenda stage and…

Publié par So It Goes – sur mardi 7 mars 2017

“You’re just watching… the decline of Hong Kong’s cultural scene. Are you Hongkongers?” he asked.

Raids have been a common occurrence over the course of Hidden Agenda’s history, but Tuesday evening was the first time its latest venue had been visited by officials.

Hui said that the venue will continue to hold its scheduled concerts. “[We] will continue to defend, until they cut our electricity.”

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.