Handover party hurt by weather

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 29 July, 1997, 12:00am

Fewer than one in five people attended handover events, according to a South China Morning Post survey.

The poll showed only 19 per cent took part in activities despite a packed schedule of festivities organised by the SAR Government and pro-Beijing groups.

Event organisers yesterday blamed the weather and television, saying people might have stayed away so they could watch the celebrations on TV.

Television ratings bear this out. Stations claimed record ratings for the period.

More than 1,000 people aged 15 to 64 took part in the survey between July 7 and 11.

'Some people preferred to watch events on the television rather than join us,' said Christine Chie, publicity officer of the Association for Celebration of Reunification of Hong Kong with China.

'Of course we were a little disappointed with the weather,' she said.

However, organisers were satisfied with turn-outs for the extravaganzas, Ms Chie said.

The Government was satisfied with the 800,000 attendance to date at its functions which run until September, said a Home Affairs Department spokesman.

Mostly young people aged 15 to 24 attended events, according to the survey, with 27 per cent of those polled in that age group taking part.

About 26 per cent of those who 'very confident about the future' took part in celebrations.

Nearly half the population, 2.99 million, was watching television at midnight on June 30 when the British flag was lowered and the Chinese one raised, according to AC Nielsen-SRG figures.

An even higher number of viewers, 3.95 million, tuned in between 8 pm and midnight.

The low participation figure showed the Government spent too much on celebrations, said ousted legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing.

The budget for the celebrations was $233 million.

'People were not in the mood for celebrations and they did not have much feeling for the handover,' she said.