Hong Kong Cantopop star and pro-democracy activist Denise Ho braved the heat to perform her concert online on Sunday, after her live event was abruptly cancelled by the Hong Kong Arts Centre (HKAC) 11 days before it was set to take place.

Ho performed her set via livestream from a last minute location without any air-conditioning, StandNews reported. The singer expressed gratitude to the audience for their support despite the unexpected changes.

Photo: Denise Ho via Facebook.

“I don’t know how to thank everyone – the only thing I can do, the only thing I know how to do… is to keep singing,” she told the audience.

Following HKAC’s cancellation, the singer was forced to refund all live concert tickets and launch a separate ticketing system for the online concert.

The venue had terminated the lease agreement on August 31, citing a contract clause allowing it to do so under “public order and safety” concerns. It did not clarify what the threat may be.

Reneged refund

The livestreamed gig went ahead after the venue reneged on its promise to refund the singer for the cancelled booking agreement last week.

At the time of the cancellation, the venue had written a letter to Ho’s music company informing it of the decision to terminate the agreement, adding that it would refund the reservation fee of HK$127,800.

In a letter dated last Thursday, however, the venue changed its tone, accusing the singer of having breached the contract.

Shousan Theatre in Wan Chai. Photo: Wikicommons.

“Your allegation that we have breached the Agreement is strenuously denied. You have no basis to claim any loss and damage against us,” the HKAC wrote. “In the circumstances, we accepted your breaches and exercised our right to terminate the Agreement on 31 August 2021.”

The venue reneged on the refund after the singer accused it of cancelling her booking without providing evidence of any reason. Ho said she reserved her right to sue for any damages stemming from the cancellation.

Photo: Facebook.

The singer accused the venue of giving “contradictory” statements: “Does reason not have a place in Hong Kong anymore? Can signed contracts be cancelled at any time, without any legal liability?” she wrote on her Facebook page. “The Arts Centre has set a very bad precedent, it means an organisation can decide whether someone is guilty or innocent based on that person’s name alone.”

The abrupt cancellation and refund refusal comes amid rising censorship and an increasingly hostile work environment in the city for celebrities who are affiliated with the pro-democracy camp.

Rhoda Kwan

Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.