Lawmakers are divided over whether the government should cancel the July 1st handover celebration activities this year in order to mourn the deaths of two firefighters who lost their lives last week.

The fire at a storage unit facility in the Amoycan Industrial Centre, Ngau Tau Kok raged on for 108 hours. Following the incident, the pro-democratic Civic Party and People Power, as well as the newly-formed moderate party Third Way, have all called upon the government to cancel Friday’s July 1 handover celebration activities, Ming Pao reported.

Photo: Facebook via SocREC 社會記錄頻道.

See also: Dangerous goods discovered in fire building; storage unit owner pledges $500k to firefighters’ families

Pro-establishment DAB party lawmaker Ip Kwok-him said that the incident was unfortunate, but personally he believed that there was no need to cancel Friday’s celebration banquet or the flag-raising ceremony. He also said it was inappropriate to hoist the flag at half-mast, RTHK reported.

‘Politicisation’ of incident

In a column in the AM730 newspaper on Monday, Federation of Trade Unions lawmaker Chan Yuen-han also criticised what she said was the politicisation of the incident. Chan said that, if the suggestion of cancelling the celebrations was really made out of respect to – and in memory of – the deceased firefighters, no one would object.

Chan Yuen-han. Photo: RTHK screenshot.

However, she said that “in this politicised climate, such a proposal – made right after the fire had come under control – makes it difficult for one not to reasonably wonder whether there are other motives.”

Chan said that there was no definite answer to the question as to whether holding celebrations meant disrespecting the deceased. She added that it would be very disappointing and unfortunate if the incident became a political tool.

Chan later told RTHK that the banquet was not necessary and that, while making arrangements for celebration events, the government should take into account Hongkongers’ feelings and come to an appropriate decision accordingly. People were still shaken and saddened by the incident and the government should reconsider the celebrations, she said.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.