Annual ceremony for war dead to be held at City Hall

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 October, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 October, 1997, 12:00am

A new service to remember war dead will be launched by the Government next year in another break with colonial traditions.

The annual ceremony will be shifted from the Cenotaph to City Hall and from Remembrance Sunday in November to the day of the Chung Yeung Festival.

War veterans accepted the change, announced last night, but pledged to continue their own services for Remembrance Day.

Details have yet to be worked out for the new ceremony, which will be held at the Memorial Shrine in City Hall's Memorial Garden. It is expected the Chief Executive will lay a wreath and other senior government officials, community leaders and war veterans will attend.

A government spokesman said the changes were appropriate after the handover.

'After reunification we have rescheduled our ceremony to Chung Yeung. That is the date which the Chinese community are used to using to remember the dead according to Chinese tradition,' she said. 'The Memorial Garden was built in memory of those who gave their lives in the defence of Hong Kong.' While the Remembrance Day services acknowledge all those who died in war, the new ceremony will be directed specifically at those killed in the Battle for Hong Kong against Japanese invaders in December 1941.

War veteran Jack Edwards, honorary president of the Hong Kong Ex-Servicemen's Association which is organising this year's ceremony after the departure of the British military, said he was happy with the arrangements.

He said he did not see the move to the much smaller and less prominent venue at City Hall, the site of this year's heavily criticised service on Sino-Japanese War Victory Day, as a snub. 'The important thing is to remember the dead of the war.' People were often unaware of the 200,000 Chinese soldiers who fought for the Allies in the 1914-18 war and they too should be remembered, he said.

The change would not sound the death knell for a Remembrance Sunday service though, as the local community had got used to a November ceremony and that would continue, he added.

Tung Chee-hwa will not attend the Remembrance Service at the Cenotaph next month, but will send his aide-de-camp in his place.

The Director of Protocol will also attend.

Permission has been granted for the organisers to fly the national and SAR flags on the Cenotaph for the day. The monument has been bare since the handover.