PLA's maiden outing over in a shot

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 July, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 July, 1998, 12:00am

Revellers left the handover anniversary carnival puzzled and disappointed after a lightning-quick maiden outing by the PLA.

More than 30,000 people went to Happy Valley racecourse for the $6 million carnival.

Many wanted to see the PLA soldiers dispense with their low profile for the first time since marching across the border a year ago.

The 10-minute performance, involving about 200 soldiers, began with a band playing martial music.

Audiences held their breath when more than 130 soldiers appeared with rifles in hand.

'It was amazing. Our disciplined services here couldn't compare. Look at their military discipline,' said Chong Man-shan, who brought along his two children for the military show.

But the rifle show only lasted for three minutes and caught the audience off-guard when the soldiers turned and quickly marched off the pitch.

'That's it? I was expecting something like martial art or shooting games. No one explained their actions and I didn't quite understand the whole thing,' said a Mr Lau, 48, who came with his mahjong friends.

A PLA spokesman said the soldiers were showing the basic skills of holding and shooting rifles.

'It looks simple but it's not an easy job. It's the basic training the soldiers have to go through often,' said the spokesman.

He admitted the performance was shorter than the public had expected but he said it was a good start.

'I'm happy to hear that the public liked their performance. We might consider other performances if we have the chance,' the spokesman said.

Many revellers also complained the military performance was held on the pitch instead of on the central stage.

The carnival, which lasted for seven hours yesterday, also stirred up the crowds when part of the stage collapsed, slightly injuring four schoolgirls as they prepared for a choir performance.

It happened after the female host asked if the stage could break a record by holding 500 teachers and students for a joint performance.