Officers prepare to march to post-handover beat

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 21 July, 1996, 12:00am

POLICE parade grounds will no longer echo to the strains of The British Grenadiers, The Happy Wanderer and the Southdown Militia after July 1, 1997, leaving the coast clear for Enter the Dragon.

Pipers and drummers with the Royal Hong Kong Police Band must drop more than the word 'Royal' from their repertoire within the next 12 months, say senior officers.

'There are one or two of the force marches which are felt to be inappropriate,' said the chairman of a police working group on changes for 1997, Chief Superintendent Peter Halliday.

The musical accompaniment to Hong Kong salutes, Sha Tau Kok, composed in memory of police killed during border violence with mainland militia during the Cultural Revolution in 1967, is tipped to be one of those struck from the playlist.

Police Training School Commandant Matt McLoughlin said the force would retain as many traditions as possible, but some long-cherished practices would have to go.

'We've already introduced some suitable Chinese tunes,' Mr McLoughlin said.

'Our drill is very much a British Army drill, but there's no change to that. We adopted it because it was a British colony and a lot of the police are ex-Army.

'The drill in China is very much Eastern bloc: swinging the arms in the air, high marching.' The police pipe band will retain its bright MacIntosh tartan, but diners in the Officers' Mess could face anxious moments, whether feasting on Yorkshire pudding or Peking Duck.

'We follow British Officers' Mess traditions: a toast to the Queen, a toast to our Honorary Commandant General Princess Alexandra, and pass the port from the left,' Mr McLoughlin said.

'We'll have to change our toasts. We'll be told [who to toast], I suppose.' Meanwhile, badges, plaques and colonial devices bearing the Royal Hong Kong Police crest could be sold off to souvenir hunters or melted down after July 1.

But Mr Halliday said each of the 27,600 uniformed officers might be allowed to keep a set of 'Royal' police insignia.