Year ends not with a bang, but an embarrassing whimper
Revellers were out in force last night to welcome 1998, but one of Hong Kong's enduring colonial traditions, the firing of the Noonday Gun at midnight, marked the new era with an embarrassing silence. As the clock struck 12, the signal was given to Nancy Lee, wife of former Stock Exchange chairman Charles Lee, to fire the gun, but nothing happened. A technician was quickly on hand to check out the problem and after a few minutes, the gremlins banished, the shot finally echoed over the harbour to usher in 1998. One guest commented: 'With any weapon occasionally the ammunition can be defective. The first shell they tried was a dud. The gun worked normally but the shell didn't fire. So they replaced the shell and fired again. They missed midnight by a couple of minutes, that's all. For me, it was an omen that you'll just have to be cautious in 1998.'