Hong Kong Mirror concert organisers banned from renting public venues for now

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department will not accept Music Nation Productions’ application to hire its venues for concerts while investigations continue.

The organisers of an ill-fated concert by Hong Kong boy band Mirror will be banned from renting government venues to stage shows until its responsibility in the incident is made clear, the culture minister has said.

Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung Yun-hung on Monday said Music Nation Productions, which rented the Hong Kong Coliseum for the concerts, had breached the terms and conditions of hire with the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

“[There are clauses] in the terms and conditions of hire that the hirer should submit accurate reports and details of the use of the venue and … the hirer should also use suitable qualified professionals to prove that the structures erected and works on the equipment items are properly done, are up to recognised standards and are safe,” Yeung said.

“As such, before the law enforcement agencies finish their investigation and the responsibility of the hirer Music Nation Productions is made clear, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will not accept the company’s application for the use of department venues for concerts.”

Yeung added that the government would not rule out heavier penalties against the company, including permanently banning it from renting government venues for shows, should other investigations reveal more serious offences.

The minister was briefing lawmakers at Monday’s meeting of the Legislative Council panel on home affairs, culture and sports.

During the meeting, some lawmakers also blamed officials for lax monitoring, criticising them for only relying on reports submitted by the venue hirers instead of personally going to the venue to check their accuracy.

The Mirror concert was originally scheduled to be a series of 12 shows at the Hong Kong Coliseum from July 25 to August 6. During the July 28 show, a giant LED panel fell and hit two dancers during the performance.

One dancer, Mo Li Kai-yin, was critically injured and remains in hospital. Another, Chang Tsz-fung, has to do daily physiotherapy after the screen hit his head and crushed his pelvis and thighs.

Music Nation Productions co-presented the concert with Makerville Company.

Engineering Impact was the show’s main production contractor taking charge of engineering aspects, with Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering being the subcontractor responsible for the mechanical installations, including the LED panels.

United Technical Services was responsible for certifying the site inspection report.

Five people were arrested by police last week, of whom four were staff members from the main contractor Engineering Impact, and the fifth was from subcontractor Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering.

A government task force has made several recommendations, including bringing in third party auditors to conduct additional inspections.

A government task force led by the department released a report last week and found that the weight of the fallen screen submitted by Music Nation Productions was inaccurate and the venue hirer had also failed to ensure its safety and stability.

The task force made several recommendations, including requiring event organisers to hire qualified professionals to verify the weight of installations, as well as ensuring mobile devices pass loading tests. It also suggested bringing in third party auditors to conduct additional inspections.

Police last week accused Engineering Impact of purposefully making a false declaration about the weight of some stage equipment, so that it could get a permit to ensure the shows went ahead as scheduled.

Some lawmakers have pointed the finger at officials for lax monitoring, criticising them for only relying on reports submitted by the venue hirers instead of conducting checks personally.

At Monday’s panel meeting, however, several legislators said the department had been too passive.

Legislator Chan Hoi-yan said: “As a monitoring party, is there anything else the government can do to enhance its monitoring role? Can we go to the site to check? Or do we just rely on papers submitted by the organisers?”

Fellow lawmaker Benson Luk Hon-man also cited the task force report and asked: “The report says the department had checked the listed stage set-up or installation items. Is it all the department has done? What has it checked? Was there any field visit or just going through the papers?”

Yeung argued that the department was the owner of the venue, and it is the hirer’s responsibility to ensure the set-up and installations were safe.

He said: “The department will require the hirer to use a registered engineer to prove that the set-up and installations are safe.

Even if department staff had gone to the venue, they are not engineers. They are unable to judge whether the set-up is safe or not.”