Golden girl's return sparks celebration row

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 August, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 August, 1996, 12:00am

Cheung Chau residents last night accused the Government of trying to 'steal' the welcome celebration they have arranged for Olympic heroine Lee Lai-shan on Wednesday.

Rural Committee deputy chairman Leung Fu-on said the government arrangement was illogical and underestimated the enthusiasm villagers had for their most famous daughter.

'We have rented our own boat to take her back and we want to be there at the airport the minute she arrives,' Mr Leung said.

District Office officials have been negotiating with island leaders on how best to welcome the gold medallist.

The Government has arranged VIP passage for Lee and has proposed using a specially chartered boat to take her to the island.

But villagers are worried they may be excluded from the airport restricted area and might not be allowed on the Government's boat.

'We want at the very least to have 10 island representatives at the airport and be allowed to travel with Ms Lee on the boat home,' Mr Leung said.

The Government will answer the committee today.

Last night, the committee went ahead with its own plans, working out the details of a lion dance and parade involving island students.

They are now waiting for agreement from Lee on an acceptable date for a free cocktail party open to every island resident.

This will be followed by a 100-table banquet for representatives of the island's sports and neighbourhood associations and schools.

Mr Leung said Xinhua (New China News Agency) and government officials would be invited, but the committee would be in charge of the celebrations.

The committee has budgeted more than $150,000 to cover the cost of the celebrations and a gold plaque worth $18,000 that will be presented to Lee on her arrival.

The committee is expected to pay 20 per cent of the banquet costs and charge each guest about $200.