A Hong Kong newsmaker is chosen each month by HKFP. Click here to view previous nominees. Hui Chung-wo, founder of Kwun Tong industrial building live house Hidden Agenda, is selected as our Person of the Month for May 2017.

Hui Chung-wo founded Kwun Tong’s iconic Hidden Agenda live house in 2009 as an independent stage for hundreds of local and overseas artists.

See also: Anatomy of a Subculture Part II: ‘Factory culture’ and the survival of indie music in Hong Kong

The venue moved to its fourth location late last year after being continually accused of land lease violations, as it has always been based in industrial buildings.

Hui and many other arts and culture workers in Hong Kong claim that sky-high rents elsewhere prevent them from moving from former factories to more conventional sites.

A show at Hidden Agenda 3.0. File photo: Karen Cheung.

Earlier this month, Hui was arrested along with four overseas musicians in a high-profile raid on Hidden Agenda, which saw them charged for immigration offences.

The Immigration Department said that British and US groups TTNG and Mylets were performing without a work visa, but lawmakers claim that the department recently tightened its policies to refuse visas to visitors working in industrial buildings.

Since the raid, a host of other overseas bands touring Asia have cancelled scheduled performances at the iconic venue.

Jeremy Tam Hui Chung-wo Hidden Agenda
Hui Chung-wo walking out of Hidden Agenda, escorted by pro-democracy legislator Jeremy Tam and police officers. Photo: Stand News.

On Thursday, pro-democracy politicians accompanied Hui and dance director Ma Choi-wo – a fellow industrial building user – in a press conference criticising the government’s policies on industrial buildings. They explained that they have adequate facilities in areas such as fire safety.

Officials as senior as Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, however, have defended the policies, claiming that the government has successfully converted many industrial buildings for commercial use during his tenure.

Hong Kong Free Press is a new, non-profit, English-language news source seeking to unite critical voices on local and national affairs. Free of charge and completely independent, HKFP arrives amid rising concerns over declining press freedom in Hong Kong and during an important time in the city’s constitutional development.