Three cheers for the new republic of Lamma

SHOCK, horror! Lamma Island has been declared an independent republic to be headed by Prime Minister Chris Patten and Grand Duchess Anson Chan Fang On-sang.

Wishful thinking? Horrific nightmare? That's what people were thinking when they picked up a copy of a special edition of the Lamma Gazette being distributed around the island on Friday.

But the confusion soon turned into laughs as the rag revealed the story, complete with intriguing resignation letters to the Government and risque policy speeches from Mr Patten, turned out to be nothing but an April Fools' Day joke.

The four-page mickey-take was thought up and written by a group of Lamma Islanders who wanted to print something amusing for the laid-back island community.

Andy Windebank, one of the many journalists and helpers to contribute to the raucous rag, said the whole idea was to simply provide a laugh - specifically for April Fools' Day.

''It's basically just a spoof of the original Lamma Gazette put out by Derek 'Bones' Blair quite a few years ago. In fact we're now expecting a lawsuit of $10 for using the name.


''But a lot of work went into it from quite a number of people and the feedback has been great so far,'' he said.

And no wonder, for the stories reported on everything from Chris Patten's induction into the new democratic republic to a rather naughty television page.

Among Mr Patten's policies for Lamma was the lifting of tobacco and alcohol duties, the planting of farmyards with ''hemp'' and his plans to graze the island with - what else - llamas.

For the less politically minded, there was a competition to win a V V (village vehicle) and a huge cryptic crossword, guaranteed to produce a giggle.


Could this be the work of a group of mad geniuses? Or really notes from the walls of the Hong Kong Ferry loos?