LCQ19: Street posting boxes bearing British crown and royal cypher engravings
Following is a question by the Hon Claudia Mo and a written reply by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mr Gregory So, in the Legislative Council today (October 28):
At present, among the posting boxes available on the streets for the public to post mail, 59 were cast in the colonial era and engraved with British crown markings and royal cyphers (the markings and cyphers). It has been reported that Hongkong Post (HKP) plans to cover the markings and cyphers with iron plates showing HKP's corporate logo of a white humming bird on the grounds that it is inappropriate to display the markings and cyphers on posting boxes that are still in service. However, according to a former Postmaster General, the Government decided by the time of reunification of Hong Kong not to remove those posting boxes because they were still usable. He has also criticised that the attempt to cover the markings and cyphers only serves to attract more attention to them. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the specific timetable for implementing the plan to cover the markings and cyphers and the relevant details;
(2) as it has been reported that a former Senior Controller of Posts stated publicly at the time of reunification of Hong Kong that there was no plan to replace those posting boxes as they were practical stuff not meant for pledging allegiance to anyone, why HKP, after a lapse of quite some years, considers it inappropriate to display the markings and cyphers, and what well-founded justifications it has for reversing the previous decision;
(3) whether HKP's decision to cover the markings and cyphers was made out of professional judgment or under external pressure; of the role played by the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB), to which HKP is subordinated, in the incident and whether CEDB has given any advice;
(4) as it has been reported that HKP had made the decision in as early as March this year to cover the markings and cyphers, but it has all along not announced the decision, whether HKP had fully consulted the public and taken into account public views before it made the decision; if it had, of the details; if not, whether HKP will consider shelving the plan and consulting the public before making a decision; and
(5) how the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development will respond to public concerns about covering the markings and cyphers, so as to realise the spirit of the Accountability System for Principal Officials?
There are currently around 1 150 street posting boxes in the territory for the public to post mail, 59 of which are cast-iron posting boxes. After internal discussion, the Government considers it inappropriate to display the crown and the British royal cypher on the old posting boxes that are still in service, and is looking into ways to update the markings on these boxes. In parallel, the Government is considering the best way to conserve old posting boxes. In recent months, Hongkong Post met with organisations and individuals interested in heritage preservation and old posting boxes to explain to them the arrangements for updating the markings on these boxes and the conservation of old posting boxes. The Government will listen to and study the views of stakeholders, and will make an announcement after reaching a decision.
Ends/Wednesday, October 28, 2015