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Old January 7th, 2017, 06:21 AM   #921
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Lawmaker urges Chief Secretary Carrie Lam to disclose details of negotiations with Jockey Club leading up to HK$3.5 billion Hong Kong Palace Museum deal
Eddie Chu Hoi-dick lists a string of recent events, questioning whether the donation was in fact a ‘transaction’
January 6, 2017
South China Morning Post Excerpt

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is facing mounting pressure to reveal details of the government’s negotiations with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which led to a multibillion-dollar museum funding deal.

Last month it emerged the Jockey Club’s Charities Trust would fund the HK$3.5 billion needed for the Hong Kong Palace Museum at the West Kowloon Cultural District.

The closed-door arrangement, initiated by the government, effectively allowed officials to bypass public scrutiny arising from the ordinary funding procedures of the Legislative Council.

At a special Legco meeting on Friday, Lam said discussions with the club prior to the donation were confidential and the WKCD could not fund the project.

Listing a string of recent events, lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick pressed Lam to disclose all relevant documents relating to the negotiations.

He said after Lam approached the Jockey Club over the museum funding in late 2015, the government renewed the lease of the Sha Tin racecourse, which is managed by the club, for another 50 years.
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Old January 10th, 2017, 05:41 PM   #922
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The Standard Excerpt
Consultation on Palace Museum delayed
Jan. 10, 2017

Public engagement on the Palace Museum project has been delayed by one day to this afternoon, with the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority citing the need to address public concerns over the secret deal and selection of an architect long before its members were informed.

A board meeting will be held today before the kick-off so that the authority can "provide the authority's consolidated responses to all those issues" at a press conference.

This comes as the Palace Museum advertisement in Central MTR Station continues to be a hot spot for protesters.

The authority said it was aware of the comments and that if they were not addressed as soon as possible, they would divert attention from the public consultation.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong said there must have been a strong reason behind the move.

"I am astonished by its claims that attention from the public consultation would be diverted away otherwise," said Chan, who is also the deputy chairwoman of a Legislative Council panel monitoring the art hub's development.

"The public's attention has already been on the West Kowloon Cultural District for the past few weeks."

Chan sent an open letter last night to the authority urging it to revisit approval of the Palace Museum project and appointment of architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee.

"Hopefully the authority would suspend or even withdraw it to redo the public consultation and public tendering," she said.

Chan also noted that should Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet- ngor, also authority chairwoman, and Ronald Arculli, vice-chaiman, resign on Thursday, all accountable personnel would be gone.

Lam is expected to run for chief executive while Arculli reportedly will be her campaign head.

Another lawmaker, Claudia Mo Man-ching of HK First, accused Lam of misconduct as a public servant, adding she reported the case to the Independent Commission Against Corruption yesterday.

The legislator condemned Lam for failing to explain the appointment of Yim as the project's architect in June last year, way before the authority approved the Palace Museum project in November.
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Old January 13th, 2017, 01:35 AM   #923
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The Standard Excerpt
Museum plea: this is a chance not to be missed
Jan. 13, 2017

Many mainland cities would "cut off their left arm" to get the Palace Museum project, West Kowloon Cultural District Authority chief Duncan Pescod told a consultation panel yesterday as he said it is an opportunity that Hong Kong cannot miss.

Pescod also said the resignation Chief Secretary and WKCDA chairman Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor would not affect the authority, expecting Matthew Cheung Kin-chung would take over.

On the operating cost of the museum, Pescod revealed that the authority is "in discussion with the government about a new funding arrangement."

He assured the panel that there will be money to run the museum in the long term, but did not elaborate on whether the authority would request government funding. "I really worry that Hong Kong people haven't understood how magnificent this opportunity is," Pescod said.

"The Palace Museum in Beijing is approached by many other cities in China that would give their left arm to get this opportunity."

The consultation panel for the authority held a two-hour meeting yesterday to discuss the museum project.

Advisory member Ching Cheung- ying said there were "suspicions" in the planning process, while Lena Lee Ying questioned the need to create a subsidiary company because no new artifacts would need to be acquired, unlike M+, since they would be loaned by the museum in Beijing.

Pescod again countered criticism that the consultation lacked sincerity, saying the authority had been sticking to the principle of consulting the public as soon as the project had been announced.

He added that a separate subsidiary company would be needed to establish the identity of the Palace Museum as it was totally different from M+.

However, central services of the museums will be shared.
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Old January 19th, 2017, 02:34 PM   #924
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Hong Kong Palace Museum plans throw doubt on consultation
Documents emerge showing detailed layout for controversial Palace Museum project, despite bosses’ claims they are still seeking public views
January 17, 2017
South China Morning Post Excerpt

An apparent floor-by-floor layout plan for the controversial Hong Kong Palace Museum has raised questions over whether continuing public consultation on the project is cosmetic or genuine.

A 16-page document, acquired and released on Tuesday by FactWire, a local news agency, was said to be the design plan detailing the exterior design and facilities of each floor of the planned museum in the West Kowloon Cultural District.

FactWire reported that the layout design included floor plans for eight levels, showing the locations of facilities and galleries. It cited a document of “Project P”, generally understood as the code name for the Palace Museum project, which was undertaken in top secrecy until former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor signed the memorandum confirming it would go ahead, in Beijing last month.

Aside from details of each floor, the document also revealed a cross-section plan and elevation plan which showed a ding, an ancient Chinese cauldron, exterior design and the use of glass walls to allow natural light in.

“Design consultant Rocco Yim Sen-kee has a more or less finalised concept regarding the exterior design of the museum, so the public consultation probably could only influence the location of facilities within,” FactWire wrote.

After the plan emerged, Yim’s company, Rocco Design Architects Limited, said: “The disclosed design layout is one of the preliminary designs studied by the architect. The overall design of the museum is still in the early stages of development.”

The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) said the same thing, adding that it had not considered the designs in question.

Kan Tai-keung, a member of the WKCDA board – which voted unanimously in November to approve the museum project and direct appointment of Yim as the architect – also said the layout plan was not final.

“I think I saw that in a briefing in early November before the voting on the 28th, and it’s a draft on what the architect had in mind in the use of space for the project, so it’s not a final design,” the renowned designer said.

Last week, Yim said at the press conference launching the six-week public consultation that he had finished up to 80 per cent of the design, but had too little time to present it to the media since the appointment in late November.

The architect remarked the future museum would be seven storeys high, with five floors of exhibition areas. That differed from the eight-level design the document showed.

More : http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/e...ns-throw-doubt
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Old January 24th, 2017, 02:29 PM   #925
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Secret study on Hong Kong’s Palace Museum site revealed in new twist
Details of ground work only made known more than two months after contract was awarded, raising more questions about transparency
January 23, 2017
South China Morning Post Excerpt

The controversy surrounding the Palace Museum project took a new twist yesterday when it was revealed yesterday that details of a HK$3 million geotechnical study to prepare for construction were only made known to members of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority more than two months after the contract was awarded.

Internal documents obtained by FactWire News Agency also showed that architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee had commissioned an engineering firm to conduct a feasibility study 20 days before he was appointed to spearhead the design, adding to the barrage of questions about the transparency of the project.

The authority denied it had tried to hide the expenses, maintaining payment was made from development budget and that it did not involve public infrastructure works.

The HK$3.5 billion museum drew controversy when it was announced in December by former chief secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor. The secrecy of the deal and lack of a consultation – even though the Jockey Club, not taxpayers, was picking up the tab – caused a political storm and prompted the authority to launch a three-month exercise to gather public opinion.

FactWire alleged yesterday that the authority had tried to perform ground investigation (GI) works at the future museum site in the West Kowloon Cultural District in early September.

“The GI work is also used to explore underground soil and condition by the in-situ and laboratory testing,” a document submitted by the authority to engineering consultant Arup read.

The document added the scope of the study consisted of “nine ground investigation bore holes at the Project P area” as a “supplement to the previous phase of GI works”.

Six firms were invited to submit bids for the HK$3 million contract.

The authority website indicates that a HK$1.74 million contract was awarded to French geotechnical contractor Bachy Soletanche Group on October 28.

But Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan, who is deputy chairwoman on a Legislative Council joint subcommittee that monitors the arts and cultural hub, said the details were not available when she accessed the website on January 3.

More : http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/e...ce-museum-site
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Old January 27th, 2017, 02:27 PM   #926
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January 24, 2017

Cotton-Wool Clouds over ICC by Reto Fuchs, on Flickr

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Old January 29th, 2017, 07:05 PM   #927
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Critic blasts Hong Kong’s arts policy but hopes Palace Museum can be ‘steroid’ that revives cultural hub
Theatre producer Mathias Woo had the museum idea 10 years ago but says neglect of the humanities means the support structure no longer exists
January 26, 2017
South China Morning Post Excerpt

Fundamental flaws in the city’s art scene existed long before the controversy of the Palace Museum, a leading critic says, but he hoped the project could act as a “steroid” to save the deficit-plagued West Kowloon cultural hub.

Mathias Woo Yan-wai, a theatre director with a background in architecture, said he had mixed feelings about a local version of Beijing’s landmark museum, an idea he himself proposed in a book published in 2007, almost 10 years before the HK$3.5 billion plan was announced last December.

“Of course I welcome the Palace Museum project in West Kowloon, but it’s a sheer tragedy for it to happen now compared to the time when I proposed it,” Woo told the Post.

“Over the past 10 years, most museum-related humanities subjects such as archaeology have been shrunk or scrapped at major local universities. So what do we have now to support the project?”

To run a museum, he said, four basic components were required: curating, technical support, outreach and administration.

“All these need humanities-trained individuals to operate, but literature, history and philosophy have been sidelined in tertiary education in recent years, so I hope the Palace Museum project will spur a revival in those subjects,” he said on the eve of the University of Hong Kong receiving HK$1.1 million on Thursday from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for museum and conservation studies, which he described as “too little, too late”.

Woo also took a dim view of the make-up of the six committees under the arts hub’s board – seven new members were appointed on Tuesday.

“Those committees are like kaifong [neighbourhood] welfare associations including sons and daughters of tycoons who know little about art. The system should be arts practitioner-driven.”

Responding to criticism about the lack of a public consultation before the museum project was announced, Woo said past consultations had achieved little, if anything.
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Old February 6th, 2017, 05:01 AM   #928
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Hong Kong still needs a top-class concert hall. Maybe the Jockey Club can fund that, too?
Peter Kammerer says since the government appears unwilling to foot the bill for such a venue, despite Hong Kong’s great need for one, it’s time to explore other options
16 January 2017

A city that rates itself as highly as Hong Kong should have cultural, entertainment and sporting facilities to match. One that is as cash-rich as ours has no excuse for not providing world-class venues for its people. Yet here we are, decades of such discussion having passed, and still we have facilities that are second- or even third-rate. Attend an event at our premier auditorium, the concert hall at the Cultural Centre on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, and you’ll hear what I mean: inside a building that some refer to as looking like a large toilet block, the acoustics are appalling.

Visiting orchestras, opera and theatre companies, and jazz and pop performers, should be able to play in a modern hall with adjustable stage and seating, excellent sound quality and facilities. Some that have gained such a reputation are the Philharmonie de Paris, the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and the Mariinsky II Theatre in St Petersburg. In each, computer modelling was used by architects to ensure building materials and design were chosen for the best possible experience for the audience and performers. And what if it was not only a modern complex, but also iconic, like the opera houses in Sydney, Guangzhou (廣州) and the one recently opened in Taichung?

The West Kowloon Cultural District was supposed to provide that on its 40 hectares of reclaimed land. Former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa put the idea forward in his first policy address in 1998 but, after years of debate, false starts, controversy and HK$21.6 billion either spent or allocated, there’s still no certainty Hong Kong will get a world-class venue for large audiences. A mega performance complex likely to seat up to 15,000 in the northwest zone was scrapped last July on the pretext of a lack of available funding and the site has now been allocated to a HK$3.5 billion building to be paid for by the Hong Kong Jockey Club to house treasures from the Palace Museum in Beijing. Given the claimed financing problems – despite the government having trillions of dollars in reserves and annually running tens of billions of surplus in its budget, there’s still no guarantee we’ll get more than a few venues for dance, theatre and opera and the completion date remains rubbery; for now, it’s 2022 and beyond.

Hong Kong has a handful of smaller venues that have good reputations for acoustics, but none have more than a few hundred seats. Top-class artists would have to charge astronomical prices for tickets if they played public shows in such places. That leaves the cavernous Asia World Expo and the Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai, the big-crowd experience of the Coliseum and the Queen Elizabeth Stadium and the outdated and imperfect City Hall and Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan town halls. And, of course, there’s the much-maligned Cultural Centre. A complaint sometimes heard among show organisers is that our city lacks a venue that can seat between 2,000 and 10,000 people.
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Old February 8th, 2017, 05:31 PM   #929
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Hong Kong’s M+ museum head vows she’ll fight off political interference, amid fallout over secret Palace Museum plan
Suhanya Raffel, in first interview since becoming director of future visual culture museum at West Kowloon arts hub, backs a Hong Kong Palace Museum and says she’ll defend M+ curators’ independence and its global outlook
February 8, 2017

The new head of M+ has vowed to defend Hong Kong’s future museum of visual culture against political interference amid renewed concern over the governance of the long-delayed West Kowloon Cultural District.

Suhanya Raffel, former deputy director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia, said she would fight off any challenge to the museum’s global outlook or the independence of its curators.

Raffel started her job on November 1 and was soon confronted with the massive fallout from the Hong Kong government’s secret planning for a branch of Beijing’s Palace Museum to be built close to M+ in the waterfront cultural quarter.

The plan, revealed to members of the arts hub’s board and to the public seven weeks after she replaced Lars Nittve as executive director of M+, drew heavy criticism because of the government’s failure to consult the public over it. A director for the Hong Kong Palace Museum has not been named.

The plan was presented as a fait accompli by Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, a former chairwoman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, just before she entered the race to become Hong Kong’s next chief executive – the head of the special administrative region’s government.

In her first interview as head of M+, Raffel told the South China Morning Post that she supported building the satellite Palace Museum, which will physically book-end the 40-hectare cultural quarter along with another showcase for traditional Chinese culture, the Xiqu Centre at its eastern end.

“To have another museum on site is not a bad thing because you will amplify what a cultural district means,” Raffel said. “I also see the Hong Kong Palace Museum as part of a global trend where big museums have begun to think about sharing their collections internationally,” she said, comparing it to the V&A Gallery in Shekou, just over the border from Hong Kong in China’s Guangdong province, the Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain’s Basque region and the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

However, she acknowledged it was unclear if or how M+ would be involved in the development of the other museum, which the government wants to complete by 2022, three years after the scheduled December 2019 opening of M+.

More : http://www.scmp.com/culture/arts-ent...ight-political
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Old February 18th, 2017, 05:53 PM   #930
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Public consultation on Hong Kong’s Palace Museum extended until March 8
Accompanying exhibition to also be updated to include planned internal layout and spatial design concepts of museum
February 15, 2017

A public consultation on the proposed construction of the Palace Museum would be extended for two weeks until March 8, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) announced on Tuesday.

An exhibition in line with the exercise would also be updated from Wednesday to include the museum’s planned internal layout and spatial design concepts by its design consultant, architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee – the first time it would be on public display.

But a lawmaker questioned the motive and effectiveness of the extension, saying it may have been triggered after the opinion-gathering exercise received a cold response.

After its board meeting yesterday – the first to be chaired by Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung following the departure of his predecessor Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor – the WKCDA announced that the six-week consultation, originally scheduled to end on February 22, would now be on until March 8.
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Old March 8th, 2017, 04:35 PM   #931
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Call for fresh talks on Palace Museum project as public consultation ends
Cultural group, which started a petition to restart discussion, wants arts hub’s managing body to ditch its “pre-determined” stance and boost transparency
March 8, 2017

Cultural workers have dismissed the controversial public consultation on the proposed HK$3.5 billion Palace Museum at the West Kowloon arts hub, which ended yesterday, and demanded a fresh round of talks.

The group ARTicipants, which comprise critics, academics and professionals from the drama, music and film industries, submitted more than 600 signatures to the arts hub’s managing body, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority, urging it to scrap its “pre-determined position” and improve transparency.

But a WKCDA board member, Professor Kan Tai-keung, fired back, saying members of the public were given ample opportunities to express their views, including any opposition to the project. “I don’t understand their logic,” he said, in reference to the group’s criticism.

Critics also argued the exercise was announced after details of the HK$3.5 billion project had been settled, such as the location, operation mode and even design, with a memorandum of understanding being signed in December.

The eight-week consultation, which was originally scheduled to end on February 22, was extended for two weeks until yesterday.

But this extension appeared not to be sufficient as ARTicipants felt the four consultation sessions – to get opinions from different sectors – included only those who favoured the construction of a complex which would house imperial art collections rented from the Palace Museum in Beijing.

“Many of the sessions were by invitation only. But when we asked for the selection criteria, there was no answer from [the authority],” ARTicipants member and songwriter Adrian Chow Pok-yin said.

Wan Chai district councillor Clarisse Yeung Suet-ying, who is also a cultural critic, said she was disappointed after accepting an invitation to attend one of the sessions. “I felt there was a pre-determined position. The host asked questions which led to favourable answers,” she said.

But Kan said it was impossible to manipulate public opinion.
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Old March 10th, 2017, 01:35 PM   #932
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South China Morning Post Excerpt
Public consultation for Hong Kong Palace Museum project engaged 48,000 people, but arts insiders still sceptical
Cultural workers have dismissed the exercise and demanded a fresh round of talks
March 10, 2017

An eight-week public consultation on the proposed Palace Museum project had engaged more than 48,000 people in the form of an exhibition and web page visits, questionnaires and opinion polls, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority said on Thursday.

While the managing body of the arts hub was pleased with the good response, a former member on the authority’s advisory panel criticised the exercise as ineffective and one that only intensified public mistrust in the HK$3.5 billion project.

The public consultation – which ended on March 8 following a two-week extension – was initiated in January after a surprise announcement in December by then board chairwoman of the authority, Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

Many felt the exercise was aimed at soothing growing concerns over the transparency of the project, which would house imperial art collections on loan from the Palace Museum in Beijing.

As part of the consultation exercise, an exhibition – a collection of poster displays – held at City Gallery in Central drew 22,244 visitors, while a web page attracted 22,640 page views.

A total of 1,575 questionnaires were completed, while 58 submissions were received by post or email.

To further reach out to the community, the authority polled 1,805 people who were randomly selected on the streets across 18 districts between February 28 and March 7.

During the same period, five consultation sessions were held to register views from relevant stakeholders, such as architects and other professionals, as well as members of the arts and culture sectors.

But cultural advocate Ada Wong Ying-kay, an authority consultation panel member since 2009 until last month, felt the exercise in which she participated was anything but effective.

“Each of us was limited to speak for only three minutes if you were lucky enough to have the slip with your name and question drawn from the box,” she said of the meeting on January 26.

“Instead of debating with research and knowledge, the exercise left some key questions unanswered, adding to mistrust in the project on social media,” she added.
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Old March 16th, 2017, 06:02 PM   #933
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Old March 26th, 2017, 06:09 PM   #934
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The Standard Excerpt
'ICAC to probe' Lam's museum approach
March 23, 2017

Chief executive candidate Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor will be investigated by the ICAC in relation to alleged "misconduct" in the Palace Museum project, lawmaker Claudia Mo Man-ching says.

Mo filed a complaint to the Independent Commission Against Corruption on January 9 about how Lam - then chief secretary for administration and chairwoman of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority - approached architect Rocco Yim Sen-kee to carry out preliminary studies on the museum project in West Kowloon last May.

Appointing Yim without public tender may involve transfer of benefits and misconduct in public office, Mo claims.

Democrat Lam Cheuk-ting had also said the appointment without a public tender could violate ICAC anti- corruption guidelines and Hong Kong's obligation to the World Trade Organization, which stipulates that big construction projects should be tendered unless there is an emergency.

At that time, Carrie Lam said West Kowloon's guideline on procurement gave government officials "the flexibility to make such direct appointment."

Anyone can report a case to the ICAC, regardless of whether they possess concrete evidence or not. The allegations of a complainant and the final investigation results could be quite different, Lam Cheuk-ting said. As Carrie Lam was not convicted, her candidacy in the CE race would not be affected, he said.
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Old April 1st, 2017, 03:09 PM   #935
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Old April 25th, 2017, 10:13 PM   #936
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Near 3 months progress:


Late January:
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Old May 22nd, 2017, 03:34 PM   #937
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Palace Museum project gets nod
The Standard Excerpt
May 10, 2017

The board of the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority has given the go- ahead for the Hong Kong Palace Museum after accepting a public consultation report on the project.

At the board meeting yesterday, members endorsed the report summarizing results of an eight-week public consultation which began in January.

It said that more respondents supported the project than opposed it.

Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, who is also board chairman, said the authority should hammer out the details of its agreement with Beijing's Palace Museum by the end of next month.

Authority CEO Duncan Pescod said the public consultation over the museum project is a genuine one and should be able to withstand legal challenges. Some lawmakers claimed the consultation was "fake," and a member of the public has applied for a judicial review over the consultation.
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Old June 3rd, 2017, 03:20 PM   #938
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June 2, 2017

B1009974 by raymond chak, on Flickr
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Old June 15th, 2017, 06:12 PM   #939
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Ocean Terminal by Eugene Lim, on Flickr
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Old July 9th, 2017, 03:57 PM   #940
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A few phone shots from today:

Love how the two piers frame the entire WKCD site here:


West Kowloon (i) by jezze0410, on Flickr


West Kowloon (ii) by jezze0410, on Flickr


West Kowloon Pano by jezze0410, on Flickr


Xiqu Centre and HSR (i) by jezze0410, on Flickr
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