Tung still to decide if he will attend September 11 service

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 September, 2002, 12:00am

Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa has still not decided if he will accept an invitation to attend a commemoration in Hong Kong marking the first anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks in the United States.

Invitations were sent out on Friday for the International Memorial for Peace - which has been organised by the American Chamber of Commerce and will be held at City Hall next Wednesday. Mr Tung's new ministers and permanent secretaries and legislators have also been invited.

The organisers expect to know by tomorrow whether the invitations have been accepted, a chamber source said. But a spokesman for Mr Tung's office said yesterday there was still no indication whether Mr Tung could attend.

The chief executive arrived back in Hong Kong yesterday after a short holiday in Fujian.

The SAR government was criticised last year for not holding a memorial soon after the attacks in New York and on the Pentagon. A service was eventually held on September 29.

US consul-general James Keith will give a speech at next week's service. 'It is just something that the community thought was needed,' the source said.

Last year's service had religious overtones, with eight religious leaders from various faiths offering prayers.

'There will be no religious themes this year,' the source said. 'It is a memorial for peace. It will be much more uplifting and future-focused.'

There will be readings from the Bible and Koran, however, as well as speeches and music.

At last year's service, 400 people attended, although City Hall can seat 1,400.

In New York, the city's former mayor, Rudolph Giuliani, will lead a reading of the names of those killed at the World Trade Centre. Current Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: 'Our intent is to have a day of observances that are simple and powerful.'

There will be a moment of silence at 8.46am, coinciding with the moment the first hijacked airliner struck the north tower. Houses of worship will be encouraged to toll bells at 10.29am, when the second tower collapsed.