Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Hong Kong entertainment industry was nearly put into a halt. Film production was postponed, and many grassroots artistes have been without a job for months. Organized by its current and former presidents Louis Koo (古天樂) and Andrew Lau (劉偉強), the Hong Kong Performing Artistes Guild expanded its “Hong Kong Filmmakers Epidemic Support Plan” by providing relief funds to disadvantaged guild members. The relief plan is funded by donators.
To be eligible to receive the guild’s full $9,000 Hong Kong dollar stimulus check, the artiste has to be a permanent Hong Kong resident, and has been part of at least two projects in the last three years, from 2017 to March 31, 2020. Only those who work in the entertainment industry, whether as an actor or as a crew member, can apply for the stimulus check. As donations are limited, approved checks are passed out in a first come, first service basis. Many actors have already expressed that they have received their HK$9,000 checks, such as Evergreen Mak (麥長青), Lawrence Lau (劉錫賢), and Bob Lam Chi-pok (林子博).
However, the support plan is being criticized for having loose restrictions, as many artistes were able to apply without having to provide their proof of income (or lack there-of). Some more well-off actors—like Michael Tong (唐文龍) and Toby Chan (陳庭欣)—were able to receive HK$9,000 stimulus checks.
Andrew Lau acknowledged the flaw in the system, saying, “This is beyond our control for now. This operates on an honest system, and we respect all colleagues.”
Although out of work, martial arts actor Ken Lo (盧惠光) said he donated a five-figure sum to the guild instead of applying for relief, explaining that he was not in need of money. As for his thoughts on financially stable artistes applying for the fund, he said, “Everybody has their own reasons for doing it. As for me, I didn’t apply because I don’t need it. Although I did not donate a lot, I do want to help out as much as I can. I don’t want to criticize anyone. It’s important to be self-disciplined.”
Toby Chan was criticized for being one of the more well-off artistes applying for the fund. The Scoop <東張西望> MC said, “Honestly, I wasn’t thinking ahead at all when I applied. I saw that I was eligible and applied. I wasn’t expecting myself to be approved! (How will you use your money?) I haven’t cashed in the check yet because I’ve been busy filming, but I will donate it to colleagues who need it.”
As for Michael Tong, who hasn’t filmed a new project since August due to postponed schedules, said, “A friend gave me the form and told me that I was eligible, so I applied.” Pointing out that in doing so he could be preventing resources from being distributed to more needy artistes, Michael explained, “I wasn’t sure before, and didn’t think too much about it before applying. Now I know, so I’m willing to donate my check to others.”
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.