Friday, June 10, 2016

Lily-livered Lancome

Pic by Amanda Calvo 

Pic by Kin Cheung/AP

Top French cosmetic brand Lancôme shuttered some of its stores for the day in Hong Kong in the face of a growing backlash against its decision to scrap a promotional concert featuring a local singer who happens to be a pro-democracy activist. 

Dozens of protesters had gathered in front of Times Square mall on Wednesday afternoon local time to protest Lancôme’s cancelation of the said performance by Denise Ho Wan-see (left), described Monday by the Chinese state-linked Global Times as a “controversial” advocate of greater political freedom for Hong Kong and Tibet. 

During the mass rallies in 2014 calling on Beijing to allow fully free elections, Ho was there too. 

Lancôme promptly released a statement on Facebook stipulating that “Denise Ho is not a spokesperson of Lancôme. We are sorry for the confusion caused.” 

Ho countered on her Facebook page, demanding that Lancome’s French head office explain itself. “Freedom, justice, and equality have always been the pursuits of Hong Kong people. If we are punished for these pursuits, it is no longer just about me, but a serious corruption of our values. When even such a global brand as Lancôme has to kneel before this kind of oppression, we cannot but take this problem very seriously”. 

Others are less surprised, given that China is a much bigger market for the brand than Hong Kong. “This is the Chinese government exercising their economic might,” Avery Ng, chairman of the League of Social Democrats told TIME

A French petition is already circulating online with over 4,600 signatures demanding the cosmetic giant reverse its decision. The brand is also facing calls for a consumer boycott in Hong Kong. 

I was at No, 12, Jalan Sungai Besi in Kuala Lumpur – where I was both a speech evaluator as well as Table Topics Master. It was a small crowd that came to the Metro Toastmasters meeting; nonetheless, it was still a lively meeting!

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