Sep 19 2017

Henry Tang Ying-yen Selected as West Kowloon Cultural District Authority’s New Board Chairman

by Helena Halim

Henry Tang Ying-yen (second from left) will be the new board chairman of Hong Kong’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) behinning October 1, 2017. Courtesy WKCDA.

Henry Tang Ying-yen has been appointed by Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam as the new chairman of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority’s (WKCDA) board. Tang will officially step into the role on October 1, with his term lasting for two years.  

Tang, who served the Hong Kong government as chief secretary between 2007 and 2011, was the first board chairman of WKCDA from 2008 to 2011, and spearheaded the early developments of WKCD. Tang will be the first individual who is not simultaneously working as a public servant to lead the organization. After an unsuccessful bid for the city’s top government post in 2012, Tang rejoined his family business, which is one of the largest knitwear manufacturers in Hong Kong.

Regarding Tang’s current career trajectory, Carrie Lam said, “Mr. Tang has this very unique experience of working in the government and in the private sector. . . I have every confidence that under Henry’s leadership, the WKCD project will be brought to new heights.”

However, there are already growing concerns that the WKCD will become commercialized and increasingly difficult for the government to monitor. To assuage such unease, WKCDA board member Lo Wai-kwok said that “suitable commercial arrangement” is necessary to sustain the project.

As Tang steps into his new role, he will face challenges as WKCDA requires additional funding for its development, and construction of several sites have already experienced delays. A controversy that has arisen in the past year is the Authority’s partnership project with Beijing Palace Museum, which faced widespread criticism for a lack of transparency and public consultation, as well as costs that were kept secret from the WKCDA until after the construction contract was awarded.

WKCDA will be a major cultural hub for Hong Kong. On its grounds, M+ Museum will showcase 20th- and 21st-century visual art, moving image, design and architecture. Nearby, the Hong Kong Palace Museum will feature dedicated galleries to showcase objects from the Beijing Palace Museum’s collection, as well as an open space for cultural events and theaters. M+ is scheduled to open its doors to the public in 2019, with the Hong Kong Palace Museum following three years later.

Helena Halim is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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