- Showpiece event for the festival scrapped, with tourism lawmaker citing safety fears as social unrest continues to grip city
- Government confirms decision was made ‘due to current situation’
The signature fireworks show for Lunar New Year has been cancelled, the latest major event in Hong Kong to fall by the wayside over the city's anti-government protests.
Minsters confirmed on Wednesday the decision to axe the display at Victoria Harbour, which was scheduled for the second day of the celebrations on January 26, blaming the "current situation".
Tourism lawmaker Yiu Si-wing earlier said the government, which organises the event, had safety concerns, with the seven months of protests engulfing the city showing little sign of abating.
Referring to the widespread cancellations of flagship events in the city, Yiu said: "It is not good for Hong Kong's reputation.
"When it comes to safety issues, the decisions are understandable."
The fireworks, which at about 20 minutes long are the largest scale in the city in terms of duration, have been at the heart of the Lunar New Year festival for years.
The last time they were cancelled was in 2018 in the wake of a bus accident in Tai Po that claimed 19 lives and injured at least 60.
Yiu said it was disappointing the fireworks had joined a growing list of axed events since the protests broke out in June last year, triggered by vehement opposition to the now-withdrawn extradition bill.
The demonstrations have morphed into a wider anti-government movement, with mobs hurling petrol bombs and bricks at police, who have responded with tear gas, pepper spray and even live rounds.
Home affairs minister Lau Kong-wah confirmed the government's decision to drop the Lunar New Year fireworks due to "the current situation".
"After careful assessment, we decided to cancel the Lunar New Year fireworks based on public safety concerns," the minister said on Wednesday.
He added the light show at Victoria Harbour and performances in West Kowloon Cultural District would not be affected.
Lunar New Year parade replaced by carnival over safety fears for protest-hit route
Convenor of the pro-democracy camp Tanya Chan Suk-chong said she did not follow the logic for calling off the event, saying the decision has dealt another blow to Hong Kong's international reputation.
Referring to the strength of police firepower and proposals for more weaponry, she said: "I don't understand why police have no confidence in ensuring public safety."
Chan said the administration lacked the will to properly govern the city, and urged Lam to respond to the anti-government movement's five key demands.
Traditional Hong Kong New Year's Eve fireworks cancelled over protest fears
Pro-establishment lawmaker Lau Kwok-fun said the cancellation was disappointing but understandable.
"For the past seven months, some large-scale events have already been cancelled amid protests," Lau Kwok-fun said.
"We hope the protests come to a complete stop. The government should also have more dialogue with the public."
Aside from the fireworks blow, it was previously announced the Lunar New Year celebration would be watered down, with a three-day carnival replacing the parade through southern Kowloon.
The traditional New Year's Eve fireworks, organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, were also cancelled due to safety concerns.
Copyright (c) 2020. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.查看原始文章