Leung Hon-ming works in a standard government office. There isn't a picture of the Queen in sight and the tea set by the window, a few saucers and an egg cup bearing the Royal Crown on their brims, is for show only. 'We stopped putting a royal insignia on the cups and dishes in 1991,' said the Controller of Government Supplies (General Division), pointing at the box of chinaware. 'We have also stopped putting government logos on our stationery, not because of the change of sovereignty in 1997 but more and more government subvented or subsidised bodies are buying from us as we offer cheaper goods. 'We can't force our non-government clients to buy stationery that bears the official logo. So the Supplies Department started phasing out the crown insignia on some common-use stationery items a long time ago.' It might as well. From July 1, 1997, all government property that bears symbols with 'overtones of British sovereignty' must disappear. As revealed in this year's government budget, taxpayers are expected to foot the bill of at least $20 million to have hundreds of thousands of buttons, badges, belts, flags, and emblems on uniforms, vehicles and buildings replaced. This change mainly affects the disciplinary services, the Police, Fire Services, Correctional Services, Customs and Excise, Immigration, the Judiciary and, to a smaller extent, the Marine Department. The task of replacing it all is mammoth. According to the Civil Service Branch, consultation with the Police started about two years ago, while other services followed in the middle of last year. All were asked to submit new designs. Approximately 440 uniform items worn by disciplined staff and 640 uniform items worn by civilian staff bearing the Royal Crown or other colonial insignia will need to be changed, a spokesman said. Some 46,000 disciplined and 24,000 civilian staff will be affected by the change. In addition, 19,000 officers from the various auxiliary services will be affected. The estimated cost of replacing badges and insignia within the disciplinary forces is about $14 million. As for the Judiciary, the Legislative Council was told this month that $6.6 million would be spent on replacing flags, emblems and other symbols in court buildings. The largest item on the list was the removal, replacement and touch-up work on 58 emblems engraved into the walls of courtrooms at a cost of $80,000 each - a total of $4,640,000. Unlike the Judiciary - judges' attire is likely to remain the same - badges and insignia worn by the disciplined officers will be removed and replaced. A working group was set up in early 1994 to study new designs, though the uniforms will remain the same. A spokesman for the Civil Service Branch said: 'Most departments have now submitted their proposed designs and they have been considered by the working group. Discussions with departments are still continuing. 'When the proposed designs have been agreed within the Government, we shall consult the Chinese side. In due course, agreed designs will be announced.' That is it. Despite huge public interest in what the new designs will be - after all, taxpayers are paying for them - no more information is forthcoming as to what they will look like and when they will be phased in. Several government officials said the same thing about badges and buttons for the disciplinary services: that the new designs are confidential and they 'haven't a clue' what they look like. But as far as government department logos are concerned, an internal circular was issued in July last year to remind branches and departments of the change. It said: 'Branches and departments should identify all items with colonial connotations and make arrangements to have them phased out by the handover at the latest. 'Departments are encouraged to make use of the resources of the Information Services Department, or, if necessary, to employ outside consultants in designing the above items. 'However, if they feel they have the relevant expertise, departments may design the items in-house. All new designs require the prior approval of the Director of Administration before introduction.' And the guidelines for new logos are as follow: no new logos should contain symbols with overtones of British sovereignty; logo designs should be simple; one or two colours at most is preferable; they should be easy to understand; the logos should be unique; designs should be easy to read and dignified. While the Post Office already has its own 'neutral' department logo, the red mail boxes bearing the Royal Cipher and buttons on the postmen's uniforms have yet to be completely phased out. Indeed, back in Leung's office, there are still pieces of paper and envelopes on his desk bearing the letterhead of the British Crown. 'During this interim period, of course, we still have the old stocks lying around,' Leung said. 'But the number of these items, like the dishes and cups, remain small. We have yet to decide what to do with them. 'As for the ordering buttons and badges, we have yet to hear from the individual departments. They are still working out the designs. All we know is that the deadline for them to submit their orders is sometime this year.'