The government has once again thrust itself into the international spotlight for the wrong reason.
The removal of French street artist Invader's graffiti raised eyebrows not only in the art scene but also among people worldwide. The Highways Department "systematically" and "rapidly" removed the art, citing safety reasons. It seems to me the department couldn't even be bothered to think of a believable excuse.
It's no surprise that the artist was prompt and critical in his response. He wrote on his blog that he was "saddened by the system". He expected his "invasions" to be taken down eventually, but he did not count on the efficiency and determination of the Hong Kong authorities.
The government is very efficient in getting all the wrong tasks done, but inefficient in all the right ones. Before Invader, the highly regarded calligraphy of the "King of Kowloon", Tsang Tsou-choi, was covered up by the department. On the other hand, Simon Birch, a Hong Kong-based artist, is having difficulty showing his work outside of museum and gallery spaces because of "red tape". The government should get its priorities right when handling art.
Here's what Invader was really asking: doesn't the government have more important work to do than take down street art? Yes, he's breaking the law by vandalising, but who cares?