A spokesman for the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) made the following statement today (August 6) in response to the news reports in some newspapers and radio stations on the difference in the number of artefacts relating to Dr Sun Yat-sen to be acquired and those received :
LCSD conducted a detailed investigation into the case in 2006/07. It was found that in the acquisition of artefacts in relation to Dr Sun Yat-sen made in 2001, over 400 items more than that stated in the manuscript list provided by the owner were received, but 21 items on the list were not received. Following detailed investigation, the department found no evidence showing that criminal element was involved and therefore did not ask the Police to investigate into the case. However, the department considered that the officer involved, who was at curator rank then, lacked the required prudence when handling the acquisition. The officer was punished by disciplinary action in accordance with established procedures.
The department has also conducted a subsequent review on the procedures in relation to acquisition, stock checking and accessioning of relics and artefacts, and instructed the staff to stringently follow these procedures and guidelines.
LCSD has reported the case and the finding of its investigation to the Home Affairs Bureau and the Audit Commission. No front line staff was punished by disciplinary action in this case. Subsequent investigation revealed no evidence of any loss in artefacts during the process of transportation or storage.
The artefacts acquired are mainly letters, documents, printed matters, household ware, photos and books, and their heritage value vary. As this is a one-lot acquisition, the individual items were not priced. The museum had consulted its honorary advisers before deciding to make the acquisition. The advisers agreed that the artefacts were of historical value and should be acquired. The owner, who preserved the artefacts for many years, expressed the intention of donating the artefacts while accepting a custodial fee. The whole lot of the artefacts consists of about 3,000 items. The officer, who received the objects in the United States of America, found that all the significant items had been included in the handover. Taking into consideration the huge number of items and the special nature of the acquisition which involves a donation, the officer did not count the objects item by item during the handover.
Since some of the artefacts were stored in Macau, the department had to arrange forwarders to deliver the collection in batches to Hong Kong from the States and Macau. Suggesting the owner to bring the ivory items to Macau for handing over along with other items was just one of the delivery proposals offered to the owner for consideration. There was no evidence to suggest that any officers involved tried to avoid the required procedures in importing ivory objects. In fact, the museum had declared to the relevant departments about the collection of ivory items and was given the exemption permit.
Museums have been making strenuous efforts in collecting historical and cultural objects to archive different missions, including heritage preservation. The number and which collection items to be put on display would be decided according to the theme and content of the exhibition. The permanent exhibition currently being staged in the Dr Sun Yat-sen Museum consists of some artefacts acquired under this lot in 2001. The thematic exhibitions organised by the museum also feature some of the collection items from time to time. The upcoming exhibition "Icon of an Era: the Dr Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum 1929.6.1" to be staged at the museum will feature another category of the items acquired under this lot.
Ends/Thursday, August 06, 2009