Lawmaker queries June 4 as 'heritage'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 March, 2009, 12:00am

A lawmaker has questioned how the government will define intangible cultural heritage in its coming survey of which traditions are intrinsic to the city's identity and should be preserved.

Cheung Man-kwong, a member of the Legislative Council's home affairs panel, asked whether the annual June 4 vigil for Tiananmen incident victims would be included in the government's list of intangible heritage items.

The list is to be produced by a survey beginning later this year.

'Rituals such as the Cheung Chau bun festival parade can be considered intangible cultural heritage,' Mr Cheung told the panel.

'Should the annual June 4 memorial event be shortlisted as well? It has been going on for 20 years, and more than 50,000 people are participating in it each year.'

Florence Hui Hiu-fai, the undersecretary for home affairs, said the 'heritage' factor would be a key consideration, implying that the June 4 event did not meet this criterion.

The survey will be carried out by local academics and is expected to take about 18 months to complete.

The Intangible Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee, appointed under the home affairs secretary, will go through the survey responses and draw up the results. The customs and traditions listed will be documented with photographs, video recording and a collection of artefacts.

Cyd Ho Sau-lan, also on the panel, asked whether the government would introduce legislation and administrative arrangements to protect intangible heritage, as jurisdictions elsewhere in the world have done.

Members were told that 34 items of intangible cultural heritage have been included in Guangdong's list. Worthy items could be submitted to Unesco, through the central government, for inclusion as part of the world's intangible cultural heritage.

Unesco's Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage was adopted in October 2003.

Beijing ratified it in 2004, and the convention applied to Hong Kong from December 2004.