I am writing in response to the letter, “No fireworks, no problem” (Young Post, March 9). I am afraid I cannot agree with the government’s decision to cancel the fireworks.
There is no doubt the bus accident in Tai Po was an avoidable tragedy, but there were other ways to express the city’s sadness than cancelling the fireworks display. Buildings could have flown their flags at half mast, the government could have asked the media to darken their icons, or they could have organised a public grieving session to show respect to the victims and their families.
Instead, the government decided to cancel the New Year fireworks display. As the article said, the city’s tourism industry was badly affected. Tours and restaurant bookings were cancelled, and millions of dollars lost. The main reason the display was cancelled was because, according to traditional Chinese customs, on the seventh day after someone’s death, rituals have to be completed to send the dead on their way. However, the way of counting the seventh day should include the day of death, which was New Year’s Day and not the day of the fireworks display. Thus, the show should have happened.
Many tourists who came to the city for the display didn’t know it was cancelled. That made them very angry. Harbour-side restaurants lost customers, and now they can’t pay their workers any bonuses this year.
The fireworks had to be disposed of near the Soko Islands, near Hong Kong. But that still means they were set off regardless of the display being cancelled, and still contributed to air pollution. I don’t think that the words in the article, “we’re breathing a little easier this year”, are true.
Justin Tam, Hoi Ping Chamber of Commerce Secondary School
From the editor
Thank you for your email, Justin. This was, no doubt, an exceptionally tragic time for the city. Everyone was shocked when the crash happened and I think our leaders’ hearts were in the right place when they decided to cancel the show. It was not a decision to be taken lightly as it did have a terrible effect on the economy.
It didn’t only affect struggling restaurants, but also big hotels and entertainment venues. That being said, it’s awful that companies were unable to give staff bonuses. Many people count on their end-of-year bonus, which is part of their pay package, and it can mean the difference between sending their children to one school or another.
Perhaps, instead of giving taxpayers a rebate, the government could use its excess cash to help out those companies who suffered because of their decision.