Service for war dead hangs in balance

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 July, 1997, 12:00am

A Remembrance Day service to honour the war dead hangs in the balance as officials debate whether to mark the occasion.

No government ceremonies will be held on either Sino-Japanese War Victory Day or Liberation Day next month, while no decision has yet been taken on the traditional November event at the Cenotaph in Central.

Remembrance Day ceremonies form part of a review of the role of the Cenotaph ordered by the Chief Executive.

Veterans have called for flags to be raised and lowered each day at the SAR's most prominent war memorial in continuing commemoration of those who died in the two world wars.

British servicemen performed a simple ceremony at the Cenotaph opposite the Legislative Council building every morning and evening, and it has been suggested that PLA troops do the same.

Veterans, who have pledged to continue to honour their comrades, petitioned Tung Chee-hwa to authorise the flying of flags, and he has now passed the matter on to acting Director of Administration Paul Tang Kwok-wai.

A spokesman for Mr Tang's office said it would be decided if flags were to be flown at the Cenotaph, if a Remembrance Day service would be held there and if any structural alterations needed to be made, most likely to focus on crowns which are on top of each flagstaff.

No time limit has been set for the inquiry to be completed, but Remembrance Sunday falls on November 9 this year so conclusions will have to be reached by then.

Last year local and international representatives laid more than 150 wreaths at the memorial.

Jack Edwards, former prisoner of war and chairman of the Hong Kong and China Branch of the Royal British Legion, has been given permission to sell poppies in November to raise money for local ex-soldiers.

He remains hopeful that Remembrance Day will continue to be celebrated officially.

He said the local prisoner-of-war association would commemorate either Sino-Japanese War Victory Day or Liberation Day in the Memorial Gardens next to City Hall as they have always done, except in 1995 and 1996 when larger services were held for the 50th anniversary of liberation and for the last time under British rule.

But he said he was surprised there were no government plans for Sino-Japanese War Victory Day, which replaces the Liberation Day public holiday.

'I thought when they changed the name that meant they were going to do something,' he said.