Performances at a cocktail reception celebrating the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Establishment Day on Friday will be cancelled, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said. The move came after the Ngau Tau Kok fire that claimed the lives of two firefighters last week.

The government came under pressure to curb celebrations for the handover anniversary to show respect for the tragic events. Leung also said he will not attend celebrations hosted by civil societies on that day.

“I personally think the two colleagues who passed away while on duty should receive medals,” he said ahead of the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday.

Leung Chun-ying
Leung Chun-ying. Photo: GovHK.

“We will also mourn the colleagues who passed away on different occasions and for different reasons, to praise their contributions and those of other colleagues,” he added. “We attach great importance to it.”

The fire started last Tuesday on the third floor of the Amoycan Industrial Centre, where more than 200 mini storage units were located. The building, built 66 years ago, was exempted from having to install sprinklers on its ceilings.

fire Amoycan Industrial Centre
Fire at the Amoycan Industrial Centre building. Photo: Don Wong via Facebook Hong Kong Breaking Incident Group.

Leung said four government departments will inspect mini storage units without sprinklers on Tuesday. They will include the Fire Services Department, the Buildings Department, the Lands Department and the Labour Department.

He added that the departments will enforce the law to eliminate the potential fire danger and to protect the safety of firefighters, workers and residents nearby. The government will also consider legislation to regulate the safety of mini storage units.

“We hope that we can have cooperation from storage companies and users during this process,” he said.

Lam Wing-kee
Lam Wing-kee. Photo: HKFP.

Meanwhile, the central government in Beijing has agreed to begin talks over the communication mechanism between Hong Kong and the mainland, following the return of the bookseller Lam Wing-kee and a request from Leung.

Leung said both parties agreed that the mechanism had shortcomings and could be improved.

“The first stage is a discussion between specialists of different departments to review the shortcomings of the implementation over the past ten years or so,” he said.

He added that he attached importance to the issue, as he cut short his holidays last Monday to come back to Hong Kong to write to Beijing.

“I thank the central government for its support and understanding of people’s thoughts about the issue,” Leung said. “I hope there will be gradual developments as soon as possible.”

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.