Govt to set up mechanism over handling of national flags in patriotism push

Authorities said on Friday that they will formulate a mechanism over the proper handling of national flags hoisted in public by citizens and community organizations, including arrangements on waiving relevant fees.

Government's response came after a community organization was charged HK$147,000 of administration and inspection fees by authorities for hoisting the national flags during the National Day celebrations last year.

The group, given the green light by Highways Department to hang flags at the lamp posts, later applied for a discretionary exemption to the fees. Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said on Thursday that he has instructed the department to waive relevant fees.

Later that night, the department said although there is no fee waiver mechanism, they will inform the group of the refund as soon as possible after completing the procedure for vetting and approving for the wavier.

On Friday, the government further explained that the exemption to those fees was approved because patriotic education has always been a main aspect of government's policies.

“The government received a request for granting discretionary exemption to the fees above and, taking into account its policy to promote education on patriotism, approved the waiver of them,” a spokesperson said.

The government also encouraged citizens and civil organizations to celebrate national festivities and express their patriotic feelings using the national flags and the regional flags with respect.

The spokesperson added authorities will strengthen education on patriotism by enriching contents relating to the proper handling of national flags.