The initial probe into the accident that left two performers injured after a giant screen fell during a concert by popular Hong Kong boy band Mirror is expected to be completed within two weeks, a top official has said.
The screen fell from height during Mirror’s live performance on Thursday and hit two dancers, one of whom remains in a critical condition in intensive care. The second performer was discharged from hospital on Friday.
Speaking on an RTHK show on Monday morning, the Secretary for Culture, Sports and Tourism Kevin Yeung said that different government departments were investigating the incident.
On Sunday, around 40 people from the Hong Kong police, the Government Laboratory, the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department, the Labour Department and and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) went to the Hong Kong Coliseum – where Mirror’s now-axed series of 12 concerts were being held – to collect evidence.
Yeung said that police would look into whether human negligence or criminal liabilities played a role.
Additionally, the Labour Department was investigating whether the employer had properly protected staff safety, while the LCSD was examining the cause of the accident as well as coming up with ways to improve the safety of future performances. The Hong Kong Coliseum is managed by the LCSD.
A task force led by an assistant director of the LCSD to investigate the incident will hold its first meeting on Monday, the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau announced in a statement on Sunday.
Superintendent of West Kowloon crime unit Alan Chung told reporters outside the Coliseum on Sunday afternoon that there were no findings yet and he expected the investigation to take some time as it was relatively complex.
“There is only one purpose – to reconstruct the truth,” Chung said.
Yeung echoed the superintendent, saying that the probe would take time, as it must based on facts and science. “We hope that in one or two weeks, there will be some initial findings on the incident’s causes,” he told RTHK.
Last Friday, Yeung said a preliminary investigation revealed that one of the two steel cables attached to the large video screen had broken. He added that it was “too early” to tell who was responsible.
A number of people and parties involved in the Mirror concerts have been identified, with many declining to comment on the accident or denying their involvement.
On Monday – four days after the incident – the producer of the concerts, Lam Ho-yuen, who is also known as “fran9,” apologised to the injured dancers, their families, other performers and the audience in a statement posted on his Instagram account.
Lam said it was inappropriate for him to make any comment at the moment, but he “did not intend to evade responsibility.”
The main organisers of the concerts, Music Nation Group and MakerVille, said in a Friday statement that they had contacted all related parties to “thoroughly investigate” the incident. They said they would “immediately notify the police” if any suspicious elements or improper actions were spotted.
According to the live shows’ ending credits, the mechanical engineering was outsourced to Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering Company Limited, while Art Design and Production Limited handled stage engineering. Meanwhile, the visual equipment was provided by In Technical Productions.
Art Design and Production Limited said in a statement that it was not related to the incident.
A statement from In Technical Productions’ said that it had not participated in the production of the wires and structures from which the giant screens hung, or the operation of their mechanical engineering.
Hip Hing Loong Stage Engineering Company Limited said the wires and machinery linked to the hanging screens were “produced and supplied” by suppliers designated by the main contractor – Engineering Impact Limited.
On Saturday, Engineering Impact Limited said in a statement that it could not release any information as the incident was still under investigation. It said the design and production of the set involved “different units.”
Labour right concerns
Speaking on the same RTHK radio show as Yeung, Yip Chan from the Hong Kong Theatre Arts Practitioners Union said that the incident reflected problems dancers faced.
Chan said dancers in Hong Kong suffered from low bargaining powers and it was difficult for them to fight against unreasonable arrangements.
He said the full rehearsal run of the concerned Mirror concerts was delayed multiple times because the mechanics were not set up in time. “Who decided to run the show as scheduled and not to skip, say, the first two shows, to deal with the safety matters?” Chan asked.
There have also been cases of dancers being “blacklisted” by organisers and losing opportunities after pursuing compensation from being injured, he added.
Chan called for the establishment of a dancers’ union and implementation of guidelines on their working conditions.
Also speaking on the same programme, Fay Siu, the chief executive of the Association for the Rights of Industrial Accident Victims, said she believed that the dancers in the Mirror concerts were self-employed, meaning that they were not covered by the Employees’ Compensation Ordinance.
Siu said unless a party came forward as their employer, there would have to be a Labour Department investigation or even legal proceedings to prove that the dancers actually were hired.
She added that it could take years for the injured to receive their reparations if they opted for civil claims.
Meanwhile, 23 dancers who participated in Mirror’s shows said they had not launched any crowd-funding efforts on behalf of their injured co-workers. In a Sunday statement they urged the public not to trust any related crowd-funding calls or anonymous comments claiming to be one of the performers.
Injured dancer’s parents pay visit
The parents of the critically injured dancer returned to Hong Kong from Canada on Saturday. They temporarily left their quarantine hotel and visited their son on Monday morning after being permitted to do so by the Department of Health.
The Centre for Health Protection’s Chuang Shuk-kwan said during a regular Covid-19 briefing on Friday that authorities allowed visits on compassionate grounds for those returning to Hong Kong for urgent matters relating to family members.