Veterans lose Cenotaph daily flag-raising fight

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 August, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 August, 1998, 12:00am

War heroes have lost their battle to have the dead remembered daily at the Cenotaph in Central.

Officials have rejected an appeal to raise the national and SAR flags daily at the most prominent war memorial, although they may be flown on special days.

Ex-servicemen said yesterday they were disappointed by the decision, which has taken more than a year, but would continue to lobby.

The Cenotaph, built opposite the Legislative Council Building in the 1920s as a replica of the memorial in Whitehall, London, used to be the scene of a brief dawn and dusk ceremony each day when British servicemen would hoist flags to remember the war dead.

Since the handover, permission has been granted on a handful of occasions for commemoration services and the flying of the two flags.

'Having considered the matter, the Government is of the view that it would not be appropriate to fly the national flag and the regional flag on a daily basis,' a government spokesman said.

'However, we have no objection in principle to flying the national flag and the regional flag on the Cenotaph on the day when a remembrance service is held at the Cenotaph.' Gulf War tank commander Brigadier Christopher Hammerbeck, president of the Hong Kong Ex-Servicemen's Association, said he was disappointed, but grateful that flags and services would be allowed for Armistice Day as well as other commemorative days.

'Flying the flags would make a clear statement on the sovereignty of Hong Kong as well as remembering the dead,' he said.

Mr Hammerbeck rejected a suggestion that the Cenotaph had fallen victim to an anti-colonial backlash.

Jack Edwards, a former prisoner-of-war of the Japanese and honorary chairman of the association, said people often asked him what was happening to the Cenotaph.

'It's like a sore thumb sticking up there with no flags, it couldn't be in a more prominent position,' he said.