Confusion over flags leaves Cenotaph bare

PUBLISHED : Monday, 21 July, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 21 July, 1997, 12:00am

Senior government officials have been told to investigate whether flags can be flown at the Cenotaph to remember the war dead.

Veterans have petitioned Tung Chee-hwa asking him to authorise and support the daily hoisting of national and SAR flags at the war memorial opposite the Legislative Council Building in Central.

Mr Tung's office has now ordered the Director of Administration to look into the matter.

Confusion surrounds who controls the monument and ceremonies held there.

While the Chief Executive has final say over where the Chinese national and SAR Bauhinia flags may be flown, the Urban Services Department tends the site and the Government's Protocol Office used to organised remembrance services there.

Before the change of sovereignty, British troops raised flags representing the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force every morning, lowering them again before sunset.

British forces were also at the forefront of international services held for Remembrance Day each November and the 50th anniversary of Hong Kong's liberation from the Japanese in 1995.

But since the handover the three flagpoles on either side of the monument have remained empty.

Ex-serviceman Maximo Cheng, imprisoned in Hong Kong by the Japanese before going on to fight again in Burma, said he felt let down.

'It's almost as if the people who fought in two world wars have been forgotten,' he said.

'We Chinese also fought as well as the British and Canadians and so on, but the youngsters today don't believe that the Chinese fought, they don't know the history.' Jack Edwards, chairman of the Hong Kong and China branch of the Royal British Legion, said: 'It looks very bare. Every day I'm hoping to see scaffolding up there and if scaffolding is up there then they are taking the crowns off the flagpoles and there will be movement.' A spokesman for Mr Tung said: 'The matter has been passed to the Director of Administration. He will see what can be done.'