Local Low's Gully survivors vow to take action over portrayal by British officer

ONE of three Hong Kong soldiers rescued last month from the treacherous Low's Gully on Mount Kinabalu has revealed he and his colleagues have plans to write an alternative ''diary'' to give their own version of events of their ordeal.

Lance-Corporal Kevin Cheung Yiu-keung said he and privates Victor Lam Wai-ki and Chow Wai-keung wanted to produce their own comprehensive account of the expedition which so nearly ended in tragedy. The three men and two British officers almost starved todeath when they were trapped on a rock-face for nearly a month.

''We want to write our own account for the inquiry and then hopefully have it released for the public afterwards,'' Lance-Corporal Cheung said.

''It will be in detail, a day by day account, like a diary. We want to give our own version of what happened.'' The soldiers' plans follow the release of extracts from a diary kept by one of the British officers on the expedition, Major Ronald Foster, which painted the three Hong Kong men in an unfavourable light during the ordeal.

The diary, which was sold to the British tabloid newspaper the Daily Mail, accused Lance-Corporal Cheung and his colleagues of ''being a tremendous liability'' and of ''acting almost like children'' during the expedition. Lance-Corporal Cheung said he was unable to give further information of what would be included in their account because they had been instructed by the army not to reveal details of the expedition, pending an official military investigation.

A preliminary hearing is now under way in Britain and a full inquiry will begin later this month.

The deputy director of the Joint Services public relations staff, Arthur Murray, said yesterday he was unsure whether the inquiry would be brought to Hong Kong or whether the three soldiers would be required to submit written statements to be sent to Britain.

Mr Murray added there is also a possibility that certain parts of the inquiry's findings may be withheld from public scrutiny.

''I can't tell you to what degree the findings will be made public. Detailed evidence such as whole transcripts may not be published. Why should they be? ''We're not trying to hide anything. If hypothetically there is evidence of negligence, then courts martial will follow, and courts martial are made public,'' he said.

Lance-Corporal Cheung said the soldiers have not been told when they will be called to assist in the inquiry.