100,000 pay tribute to home-town hero

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 August, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 23 August, 2004, 12:00am

Visitors flock to memorial museum display in Guangan

The centenary of Deng Xiaoping's birth is being commemorated throughout the country, but nowhere more so than in the Si-chuan city of Guangan , his home town.

Visitors flooded into the city's Deng Xiaoping memorial museum yesterday, a 55-hectare former residence that was the late leader's home until he was 15.

People were pressed up against each other inside the complex. A museum worker said yesterday afternoon that about 100,000 people had passed through the museum's gate during the day.

'The weather is mild and there is a sea of people,' the worker said.

Admission to the museum was free yesterday, but anybody planning to visit from next month will have to pay 60 yuan.

The museum worker said many older members of the community had come to see the exhibition, including a wheelchair-bound elderly man pushed by his grandson.

'I saw many senior citizens coming to see the exhibition and most of them were unassisted,' she said. 'This is quite a rare scene.'

Another official serving at the local district department said there were so many visitors arriving that he had to walk to work.

He said talk of Deng's achievements dominated local discussions.

'Local residents watched this morning's commemorative ceremony in Beijing on television, and after the programme sat in groups to talk about Deng's achievements,' the official said.

'Some of the university students doing community service here gathered in front of a bronze statue of Deng and made pledges.'

But the strain of managing the crowds took its toll.

The official said several staff members fainted while on duty because they had worked under a blazing sun for days.

Museum tour guide Kong Maolin said the crowds of people were unprecedented in the city and demonstrated that people still had feelings for 'old grandpa'.

'I think the idea that our contemporary life is closely connected with him is widespread among the young people. I am proud to work here,' Mr Kong said.