Hong Kong protests: government cancels National Day fireworks display over “public safety” concerns

Following days of speculation, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department announced the cancellation of the October 1 event

Wong Tsui-kai |

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This National Day will not have the customary fireworks display.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department has announced the cancellation of the October 1 National Day Fireworks Display in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China.

The official announcement came after speculation that the celebrations would be cancelled due to the social unrest gripping the city for over 100 days.

The October display has been cancelled twice before: once in 2013 after the Lamma Island boat tragedy, and once in 2014 because of the Occupy protests.

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In an audio recording leaked to Reuters on September 3, Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is heard saying at a closed-door meeting that the government had made a “special arrangement” for National Day.

Lam was recorded saying: “There will be National Day celebrations, but we are still having a lot of disruptions so we are going for modest but solemn celebrations on October 1.”

Stanley Ng Chau-pei, president of the pro-Beijing Federation of Trade Unions, said: “The government needs to make safety assessments. We should definitely celebrate National Day, but it is possible that those rioters would cause trouble.”

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Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai said this year’s display should be called off.

“When society is so unstable and divided, and the government has been cracking down on protests, what are the reasons for a firework display? ” Wu said. “It’s just completely opposite to how society is feeling these days.”