Culture ministers around the world - What can it mean to HK?

Rumours about who will be heading Hong Kong's new Culture Bureau under the Leung Chun-ying government have been circulating non-stop for the past weeks. Whether it is Ada Wong (vocal critic and founder and chief executive of Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture), Florence Hui (Under Secretary for Home Affairs) or Ma Fung-kwok (ex-Arts Development Council chairman but actually it's definitely NOT going to be him), we still don't know for sure who this person will be at this stage.

But before the guessing game is over, why don't we take a quick look at who are heading culture ministries/ bureaus around the world and see what we can learn from there? [Please refer to the list below]

Based on this quick glance of data, I suppose we can draw a few interesting conclusions:

1, Different countries have different government models and align culture with different but related sectors, be it education, creative industries, tourism, media, the arts, science etc. I suppose how culture is placed in a government structure reflects a government's view on culture and its relationship with the society. For example, if it's partnered with tourism and creative industries, it might mean that particular government is adopting a neoliberal approach in its policy-making.

2, There are generally two types of people who got the job:
    a, Artists, writers, journalists or who worked in fields that are related to culture or education
       - The advantage is that they come from a culture-related background and they should be able to look       at policy issues from a cultural perspective
    b, Politicians
       - They might not necessarily be coming from a culture background but quite a significant number of them have been through the election process. The advantage is that they know the importance of public's support, and they know how to master the game of public opinion in pushing government policies or political agendas

3, Based on this very limited list, none of them appears to be government bureaucrats. I guess I don't have to elaborate on this.

So what kind of culture minister should Hong Kong have?


Who: Frederic Mitterand, French Minister of Culture and Communication
Previous career highlights: Actor, screenwriter, television presenter, writer, producer and director

Who: Bernd Neumann, State Minister for Culture and Media
Previous career highlights: Teacher, Chairman of the CDU Committee on Media Policy
Remark: Critic Norman Lebrecht called him "the world's best minister of culture", citing that he has incomparable authority in cultural affairs and attacked public TV networks for "dumbing down the arts"

Who: Ed Vaizey, Minister for Culture, Communications and Creative Industries
Previous career highlights: Trained barrister, regular columnist and commentator

The Netherlands
Who: Halbe Zijlstra, State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science
Previous career highlights: Politician, having spoken on a range of subjects including higher education and educational innovations

New Zealand
Who: Christopher Finlayson, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage
Previous career highlights: Philanthropist for the arts, Creative New Zealand's Board, Arts Board chairman, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra Foundation trustee, BA in Latin and French, Masters in Law

Who: Simon Crean, Minister for the Arts and Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government in the Australian Federal Government
Previous career highlights: Politician, leader of the Australian Labour Party

Who: Cai Wu, Head of the Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China
Previous career highlights: Communications officer for Gansu Daily newspaper, Professor of international relations at Renmin University, PhD in Law

Who: Uffe Elbaek, Culture Minister of Denmark
Previous career highlights: Politician, Academic adviser for HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity

Who: Yaacob bin Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts
Previous career highlights: Politician, Minister for Community Development and Sports (2003-2004), Minister for the Environment and Water Resources (2004-2011)

Who: Lorenzo Ornaghi, Minister for Cultural Heritage and Activities
Previous career highlights: Professor, researching on political-institution integration of Europe and the European constitution; Author of academic essays in journals

Who: Masaharu Nakagawa, Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology
Previous career highlights: Politician serving in the House of Representatives in the Diet
Remarks: He enjoys mountain climbing, reading books, fishing and watching films

Who: Lena Elisabeth Adelsohn Liljeroth, Minister for Culture and Sports
Previous career highlights: Journalist, Politician
Remark: Accused of racism over the cutting of a black woman cake

Who: Mohammad Riyad Hussein 'Riad' Ismat, Minister of Culture
Previous career highlights: Writer, Critic and Director

Who: Ertugrul Gunay, Minister of Culture and Tourism
Previous career highlights: Politician, Author on writings about Bosnia

Who: Lung Ying-tai, Minister, Council for Cultural Affairs
Previous career highlights: Author, Essayist, Cultural Critic

[NOTE: Information based on various Internet sources, including government websites, news clippings and Wikipedia. I don't know how to use the symbol typing when creating this blog entry so if some of the names in foreign languages aren't spelt correctly or in the most authentic way, I apologise for that. This list is not a thorough research so please feel free to point out if there are any mistakes or if you have anything to add to the list.]

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