THE Queen's Birthday Honours List announced today is a disappointing affair, with the highest awards for Hongkong people named locally or in the United Kingdom being CBEs. One of the new Commanders of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire was former Secretary for Education and Manpower, John Chan Cho-chak, a high-flyer who suddenly retired recently at the age of 50. The others were property magnate Thomas Chen Tseng-tao, retired Appeal Court judge Mr Justice Fuad, and retiring High Court judge Mr Justice Kempster. The lacklustre list was partly due to British Prime Minister John Major's decision to trim the awards, dropping both the Imperial Service Order (ISO) and British Empire Medal (BEM). Legislative Councillors Ronald Arculli and Simon Ip Sik-on, and the Director of Education, Dominic Wong Shing-wah, were among 11 awarded OBEs (Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire). There were 26 MBEs (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire), including a posthumous military MBE to Major Simon Cheng Chan-wing. Other awards were two Queen's Police Medals, a Queen's Fire Service Medal, 18 Colonial Police Medals and 20 Badges of Honour. Mr Chan, who retired from the civil service last month, has been the subject of intense speculation since his resignation became public in March. He had worked in senior government posts from 1964, except for a two-year stint with the private sector between 1978 and 1980. There have been widespread rumours that he quit because he disagreed with Governor Chris Patten's policies and was distancing himself from the administration so as not to ruin his chances of becoming Hongkong's first post-1997 chief executive. Mr Justice Kempster, appointed to the High Court in Hongkong in 1982 and to the Court of Appeal in 1984, retires this month. Mr Justice Kempster is finishing an inquiry into Hongkong's witness protection programme after the refusal of a Vietnamese boat person to testify in a Whitehead camp murder trial led to the acquittal of the suspect earlier this year. Last April, he published a report recommending ways to prevent a repeat of the 1992 Lunar New Year Sek Kong detention centre riot and fire in which 24 Vietnamese died. Mr Arculli, who becomes an OBE, is an active member of the Liberal Party and its predecessor, the Co-operative Resources Centre. One of his major interests has been the plight of ethnic minorities after 1997. He has lobbied for full British citizenship for former prisoners of war and their families. A Badge of Honour was awarded to William Chang, a founder member and now chairman of the Hongkong Joint Council of Parents of the Mentally Handicapped. The founder of the City Contemporary Dance Company, Willy Tsao Sing-yuen, was also awarded a Badge of Honour. He is the artistic director of the company, which has sought to create a separate Hongkong identity for contemporary dance.