PLA open-day tickets snapped up

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 June, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 June, 2004, 12:00am

Scuffles break out in queues as tempers fray in the heat

Passes for the PLA's open day on Thursday were snapped up yesterday after a morning of frenzied queuing.

Some people had been waiting since 7pm on Saturday while others scuffled with queue-jumpers as the heat and a lack of tickets frayed tempers.

The open day is set to be the biggest People's Liberation Army event yet in Hong Kong.

The passes for entering the bases were distributed at the Central, Gun Club Hill and Shek Kong barracks from 9am yesterday.

With queues peaking at about 1,000 people in Central, tickets were issued 20 minutes early. By 10am, all 5,000 had gone, leaving 500 people empty-handed.

Many had come well-prepared, with chairs, snacks and water for a long wait.

'My father wanted to see the barracks,' said a man at the front of the queue. 'But he missed out on the previous open days so I'm here early this time.'

Passes were also snapped up quickly at the Gun Club Hill barracks.

And at both places the police were on hand to contain the disappointed, and sometimes rowdy, crowd.

The PLA will open its barracks at Stanley, Stonecutters Island and Shek Kong on Thursday and are expecting 15,000 visitors.

Colonel Feng Wei, a spokesman for the army, said last week that the mass rally scheduled for the same day was not a major factor behind the timing of the open day.

'We would like the open day to enhance communication and allow the public to understand the country better,' he said.

The army will also introduce new elements to the open day, which will be held between 10am and 2pm, including demonstrations by the armed forces, cultural performances by PLA members from Guangzhou, and flag-raising ceremonies at the barracks.