$116m handover activities slammed

HONG KONG • The government of Hong Kong has come under criticism after it announced that HK$640 million (S$116 million) will be spent for the 20th anniversary of the handover.

It said last week it would be organising and sponsoring more than 500 activities in the city, on the mainland and overseas to celebrate the July 1 handover. In a document submitted to the Legislative Council, the government said HK$640 million had been set aside for the celebrations.

The amount is more than nine times the HK$69 million spent for the 10th anniversary of the handover in 2007, prompting questions on whether so much spending is necessary.

Civil Party lawmaker Kwok Ka Ki said the events did not justify the HK$640 million price tag, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

"Most of the events are not related to the theme of handover," he said.

"What makes Hong Kong special is our history, our rule of law and our procedural justice... but the activities are just like promotions launched by the Hong Kong Tourism Board to me."

Chief Secretary for Administration Matthew Cheung denied that the government is being a "reckless spender", saying that the activities are "worth every penny", reported The Standard.

A further HK$50 million will be spent to host national leaders for the celebrations, reported SCMP.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 10, 2017, with the headline '$116m handover activities slammed'. Print Edition | Subscribe