CY Leung, are you trying to tell us nothing?


It's been a long while since I last updated this blog. Mostly because I have been trying to take a break while getting stuck with filing stories for the SCMP -- you can find my SCMP clippings HERE. Other than that, I have yet to come across any topics that are particularly interesting for me to comment on. 

But, thanks to CY Leung, my inspiration has returned. The Chief Executive has just delivered his first policy address (treasure this one, as only God knows how many more policy addresses he can deliver in future). In this policy address, which has drawn enough concern on housing and politics, Leung dedicated a significant length (paragraphs 178-186) to arts and culture. For details, please go HERE

Having read through these uninspiring paragraphs, here are my thoughts... 

1. "We have developed a thriving cultural industry based on local popular culture. Over the past decades, Hong Kong's television drama, music, films, newspapers, magazines and books have gained immense popularity in overseas Chinese communities."

-- CY, are you still living in the 80s? Newspapers are cutting their costs -- journalists do not get the respect they deserve from your people. Hong Kong's TV, music, films, etc have already lost their edge to mainland, Korean, Taiwan, etc. In reality Hong Kong films do not exist any more - Hong Kong films have already been merged into part of this "Chinese-language films" genre. Well HKTV's Ricky Wong, who has been battling for a new free-to-air TV licence, has just said that he's mad at Leung that he has mentioned nothing about the TV licence. Just tell the truth, don't tell us lies. 
-- CY is still talking about the old concept of "east-meets-west". Come on! Now we should look at Hong Kong's indigenous culture.  

2. "I will explore suitable mechanisms to give full support to Hong Kong's cultural and arts activities and promote the development of cultural and creative industries." 

- Let's see if he will say "I forgot" in the next few years. But probably it won't matter by then, as it will be too late by time this "exploration" generates any results. But then, when rent has skyrocketed, who can afford the time and space to make art and stage cultural activities? 

3. "We spend more than $3 billion a year on promoting arts and culture. Apart from the annual recurrent subvention of $300 million for major performing arts groups, we also provide subsidies which amount to more than $200 million a year and support to small and medium-sized arts groups, through the Hong Kong Arts Development Council (HKADC) and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). The Home Affairs Bureau has launched the Arts Capacity Development Funding Scheme, which includes a matching grant element, and disburses about $30 million a year to support relatively larger cross-year arts and cultural programmes and activities."

-- Has the government ever done any proper evaluation on why the development of Hong Kong arts and culture remains stagnant despite so much money has been spent over the years? What's happening with the funding review? Where do we stand at the moment? How should Hong Kong position itself in the region (no more east-meets-west bullshit please)?  

4. "To give young artists and new arts groups more room for development, the Government has allocated additional resources to the HKADC to provide young artists with creative space in an industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang at concessionary rental rates."

-- Apparently ADC chairman Wilfred Wong said when he first took up the chairmanship he has already managed to get his "friends" to rent out their vacant industrial buildings to artists at a lower rate. But this initiative failed to take off because of, not ADC, not the lack of resources, but the land use zoning -- I was told that these Wong's friends' industrial buildings could not be used for artistic production. So maybe Leung should be looking into land use zoning instead of just dishing out cash aimlessly? 

5. "We will continue to give strong support to the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) Authority in implementing the project to set up arts and cultural facilities and enhance cultural software in tandem. Despite rising construction costs, we will adhere to our original plan. We are confident that the future WKCD will develop into a world-class hub of arts and culture."

-- Does it mean Leung is prepared to get Legco to allocate more taxpayers' money to WKCD? If so, how much more? HK$16 billion more like we reported before? Or even more? 

6. "With strong support of the Government, local arts groups and organisations have flourished in recent years, leading to a growing demand for arts administrators. The phased completion of cultural facilities of the WKCD will add to the demand. Additional funding of $150 million will be allocated to strengthen the training of arts administrators with different levels of experience in the next five years, including internships, further studies and diversified professional training."

-- HK$150 million for five years - HK$30 million per year. How much can it support? How many arts administrators will benefit from this? Who administrates this fund? 

7. "To nurture a new generation of film production talents, Create Hong Kong will launch a First Feature Film Initiative to identify new talents through a competition on screenplay and production proposals. The winning film directors and their teams will receive full funding from the Film Development Fund to take forward their proposals."

-- Full funding from the government has been what the government tried to avoid. Since this fund directs at film industry, unlike the film and media arts fund offered by ADC, direct injection of government money into the market could be dangerous, despite it's to help new talents making their first-step. Should there be some sort of an incubation programmes that get the private sector involved? This is worth debating. 

8. And of course, there was no mentioning of a culture bureau that Leung pledged for in his election platform. Perhaps it's best to leave it as it is. 



Comments

  1. it is true that policy address has a history of being extremely vague. It is perhaps difficult to address detailed operational information when the intention was to deliver an idea.

    Having said that, along with proposed funding claims and other vague concepts, the government should mention clearly the exact body that will execute and evaluate the proposal. A responsible committee for different aspects of the grand plan, so its easier for the public to approach, understand and utilize the system, and also allow the system to mature in the public's interest over time

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