Two companies have been fined a total of HK$352,000 for causing injuries to three dancers at a rehearsal and a live concert by Hong Kong boyband Mirror last year.

A heavy LED screen fell while 24 dancers were on stage on July 28 last year and hit two of them, injuring one severely. Li Kai-yin, a dancer better known as “Mo,” suffered major injuries to his neck causing paralysis. He remained in hospital until recently.

Mirror concert Hong Kong Coliseum screen
A task force led by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department to identify the cause of an accident at Hong Kong Coliseum (HKC), suggest and follow up on recommendations, held its first meeting today (August 1) at HKC. Photo shows the task force conducting an on-site inspection at the arena of the Hong Kong Coliseum. Photo: GovHK.

Three days before the performance, a dancer fell during rehearsals when part of the stage failed to rise to ground level.

Following investigations, the Labour Department charged three companies – Studiodanz, Engineering Impact and Hip Hing Loong – with 15 offences. The first two pleaded guilty on Wednesday at Kowloon City Magistrates’ Court.

Studiodanz, which supplied the dancers, admitted five offences including failing to ensure the safety and health of employees, failing to give notice of accidents to employees, and failing to purchase insurance for them.

The company was fined HK$132,000.

Kelvin Yeung Chris Sun Vincent Liu mirror Hong Kong Coliseum
An advertisement for popular boy band Mirror outside the Hong Kong Coliseum. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP.

Its lawyers told the court that the company believed the dancers were self-employed and that the production company Music Nation Group had purchased insurance for them.

The live concert in question was co-produced by Music Nation Group and MakerVille, who were not charged. They issued a statement last October saying that they had hired an independent company to investigate the event.

Engineering Impact admitted four offences including failing to ensure that devices were safe, failing to notify the Occupational Safety Officer of a serious accident within 24 hours and failing to give notice of an accident. The company was fined HK$220,000.

mirror Hong Kong Coliseum
An advertisement for popular boy band Mirror outside the Hong Kong Coliseum. Photo: Lea Mok/HKFP

According to case details, Engineering Impact was the main contractor for the concert’s stage engineering projects while another defendant Hip Hing Loong was the sub-contractor responsible for providing and installing six large LED screens and suspension systems.

The suspension systems were purchased from mainland China by Hip Hing Loong and installed by the company’s staff. One employee, who did not have relevant qualifications, checked and tested the installations only with the naked eye, according to the case details.

Due to changes in the defence team, the court will hear the case against Hip Hing Loong next January.

In addition, three employees of Engineering Impact have been charged with conspiracy to defraud. They pleaded not guilty and the court will hear the case in October next year.

Dancers’ rights

The accident sparked questions about the employment status of Hong Kong dancers and the management of large-scale performances, which involves various parties and contractors.

Chan Wing-yip, vice-chair of the Hong Kong Theatre Arts Practitioners Union, told RTHK last August that dancers in Hong Kong had little bargaining power and it was difficult for them to fight against unreasonable arrangements.

mirror concert understate weight devices
The fallen LED screen at Mirror’s concert in July 2022. Photo: Screenshot, via Hong Kong Police.

There have been cases of dancers being “blacklisted” by organisers after pursuing compensation for injuries, he added.

Lee Shing-lam, father of the injured dancer Mo, said on Facebook on Thursday that his son until recently could not move his limbs and was still bedridden.

The father said he prayed for justice to be served and for Mo and other victims to be treated with the fairness they deserved.

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Irene Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press and has an interest in covering political and social change. She previously worked at Initium Media as chief editor for Hong Kong news and was a community organiser at the Society for Community Organisation serving the underprivileged. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Fudan University and a master’s degree in social work from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Irene is the recipient of two Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) awards and three honourable mentions for her investigative, feature and video reporting. She also received a Human Rights Press Award for multimedia reporting and an honourable mention for feature writing.