No hidden agenda in HK pop concert

By Chang An Source:Global Times Published: 2013-6-30 23:18:01

Monday marks the 16th anniversary of the return of Hong Kong, as well as the day when Hongkongers hold an annual march to express their political demands for democracy.

People's rights to participate in marches and express their political demands are enshrined in law, and the government has never intervened in the July 1 marches. However, there are a few people, with ulterior motives, who still express dissatisfaction and even try to demand a halt to all other activities.

The Hong Kong Dome Festival, a big concert scheduled to be held on July 1 from 2 pm to 6 pm at the former site of Kai Tak Airport, and which will include performers such as BoA, Henry, SHINee, EXO, f(x) from South Korea, and the bands RubberBand and Mr. from Hong Kong, has caused controversy and been described as a show aimed at maintaining stability in the region.

Two reasons have been put forward to support this argument.

The first is the low price of the tickets. Some have expressed doubts over why a major concert with so many South Korean stars costs only HK$300 ($38.67), a price that could go as low as HK$99 if one holds a Hong Kong identity card, fuelling people's suspicions even further.

Some believe this is because the government wants to prevent Hongkongers from participating in the march.

Such speculation is actually imaginative, as it fails to take into account the sponsors of the concert, including the Cheung Kong Group, Sun Hung Kai Properties and New World Development. So many sponsorships will naturally lower the ticket price.

Moreover, it is local residents who can enjoy lower prices and benefit from this preferential measure. Hongkongers have become accustomed to asking for protectionist policies from the local government, so as to prevent commodity prices from being affected by the increasing number of mainlanders in Hong Kong.

Under their requests and protests, there are already slogans such as "Hong Kong milk formula for Hongkongers," and "Hong Kong land for Hongkongers."

So why are they taking a double standard over low-price concert tickets for Hongkongers this time?

The other reason they have raised is that the concert is designed to challenge the march because it is being held in the afternoon instead of in the evening. This is even more untenable.

Apart from the concert, there are many activities held in various parts of Hong Kong during the march, and many restaurants and entertainment venues will also be open for business as usual.

Are they seriously suggesting that if the normal operation of the whole city is not suspended to make way for the march, they will be manipulated by the central government in its efforts to obstruct democracy?

Lots of messages can be found on these stars' social network pages, requesting that they pull out of the concert for "Hong Kong's democracy."

After being challenged by his fans, Lai Man-wang, drummer of the band RubberBand, said on Facebook that performing at the Hong Kong Dome Festival is not his choice and he feels "ashamed and upset at being raped."

However, neither the central government nor the local government has forced him to perform at the concert, just as no one asked Hongkongers to buy tickets for the concert instead of joining the march.

Lai's post is no more than an insignificant gesture aimed at promoting his image.

It's not the government, but the so-called democrats who are putting on a show to serve their agenda. Intervention from the central government cannot be found either at the Hong Kong Dome Festival or the July 1 march.

The fact that all 18,000 tickets for the concert were sold out in three hours shows that for at least 18,000 Hongkongers, the concert is more attractive than the march.

As many as 500,000 people attended the march on July 1 a decade ago, but the number has never been that high since then. The Civil Human Rights Front, the organizer of the July 1 marches, even published false reports on the number of participants in 2004 in a bid to expand its influence.

In fact, a mere concert will not help to reduce the number of participants in the march. Insisting on linking music to political motives can only demonstrate that those with ulterior motives are themselves not confident in the march.

The author is a freelance writer based in Beijing.

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