Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

The founder of a troubled live music venue in Kwun Tong says the heavy metal musicians detained at the Shenzhen border on Wednesday were told that they were not allowed to play even at a private event in Hong Kong.

In a Facebook post, Hidden Agenda founder Hui Chung-wo said officers had warned the eight musicians from Finland and Australia that they were not allowed to perform on stage, publicly or privately, in Hong Kong or hold any session to share their experience with friends.

Finnish band Insomnium and Orpheus Omega from Australia were due to perform on Wednesday evening, but immigration officers stopped them at the border and held them for two hours, Apple Daily reported.

Read: Visiting UK, US musicians arrested for ‘illegal work’ in HK

Members of both bands were forced to agree that they would not perform in any music shows in Hong Kong as they only held tourist visas, instead of work visas. The show was changed to a private event with all tickets refunded, Hui said in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

Orpheus Omega guitarist Joao Goncalves told Apple Daily he had visited Hong Kong three years ago and had no trouble entering the city then. He added that he thought being detained at the border would happen when foreign musicians entered mainland China.

The musicians were allowed to enter the city after they told the immigration officers that they would only eat and shop during their stay. 

Hui criticized the Hong Kong government for suppressing band culture and a Civic Party lawmaker had urged the government to review the regulations on industrial buildings in earlier reports.

Civic Party lawmaker Jeremy Tam Man-ho told RTHK that the government should launch policies to support the development of music culture.

This is the third incident this year of authorities targeting the venue, which is a well-known underground hub that hosts live shows in the musicians’ area of Kwun Tongs industrial heartland near Kowloon Bay.

Read: Hong Kong officers nearly unravel Braids’ gig

On May 7, three members of a British rock band, This Town Needs Guns, and a musician from a US band, Mylets, were arrested by Hong Kong police and accused of performing in an industrial building without work visas.

On March 7, Canadian art rock band Braids nearly had their Kwun Tong show unraveled when undercover hygiene officers tried to stop the gig before it even started, saying Hidden Agenda was operating illegally.

The venue has had problems gaining a public entertainment license because it is located in an industrial building. The Lands Department has refused to grant the license, saying running a live music venue in an industrial building would be a breach of lease conditions.

Hidden Agenda has officially operated as a takeaway food stall since being granted a food factory licence from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

YouTube video