Denise Ho’s concert called off over “public order” concerns

Cantopop star turned activist Denise Ho Wan-sze has had to call off her upcoming concert at the Hong Kong Arts Centre after the center cancelled her booking citing “public order” concerns.

Also known by her stage name, HOCC, Ho made the announcement on Facebook this morning, less than a week before her concert was supposed to run from September 6 to 12 at Shouson Theatre at the Arts Centre.

She received the notice from the centre yesterday saying it has canceled her booking based on its terms and conditions and returned the rental fee of HK$127,800. The term cited says the venue manager can cancel the confirmed booking in circumstances where “public order or public safety would be endangered during the course of performance.”

“The management of the Arts Centre is duty bound to observe closely the recent developments in society and the laws concerned. We have no additional information to provide,” the center told Ho.

Ho slammed the Arts Centre for failing to point out how her performance would breach its conditions. “We strongly object to the centre’s decision. We have looked into our performance plans and the promotion materials, and there is nothing which endangers public order or safety. Nor would the content breach the law,” Ho said.

She questioned how the 44-year-old center can face the public when it terminates an approved lease without any substantial reasons. “We may face constraints in performance venues, but performance itself cannot be constrained. With the shifting ‘red lines,’ the show will be broadcast live on September 12, 8pm as scheduled. The pandemic can’t stop spring from arriving, nor can they stop the music,” she said.

Before the latest announcement, Ho had said she encountered difficulties in finding concert venues in the past few years.

Only around 2,000 tickets were available for her planned seven-day Shouson show, less than 20 percent of one show at the Hong Kong Coliseum in Hung Hom.

It was reported that Ho has come under the scrutiny of law enforcement agencies. The report claims Ho’s actions before and after the enactment of the national security law is being scrutinized by law enforcers in a move that may see her labeled an anti-China activist.

Ho has been an activist supporting the pro-democracy camp over the past few years.

During last year’s pro-democracy camp primary election, she endorsed activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung, former district councillor Lester Shum Ngo-fai and former lawmaker Eddie Chu Hoi-dick, and called on the public to join the voting.

Forty-seven people who organized or took part in the primary election have been charged with conspiracy to subvert state powers under the national security law.

Ho took part in last year’s June 4 vigil, an event the police objected to.

She has also taken part in political events overseas, such as the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva in July 2019. In that meeting, Ho said police in Hong Kong shot rubber bullets and tear-gas canisters at unarmed protesters during the anti-fugitive bill movement and reported called on the UN to remove China from its Human Rights Council.

She was the trustee of the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, which provides humanitarian support to those who are arrested, injured or affected during the unrest.

The fund will cease operation after October as the Alliance for True Democracy, the group that operates the bank account for the fund, intends to wind up.

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