HONG KONG, June 30 –At the sovereignty transfer ceremony of Hong Kong on July 1, 1997, the PLA Guard of Honors raised the Chinese national flag and the Hong Kong police raised the flag of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Chai Ka-Fai, who is retired now, was selected as the flag raiser of Hong Kong police on the very day.
He still recalled vividly the flag-raising training before the ceremony. "I never heard of the national anthem before. So I got a record and listened over and over again. Speaking little Mandarin, I followed the tape and tried to sing it silently. (I can still remember that) The anthem music stopped at the 47th second when the flag was raised."
On the evening of June 30, the British troops stationed in Hong Kong held a flag-lowering ceremony at HMS Tamar Barracks. Chai lowered the old flag of Hong Kong accompanying the lowered British national flag, which were later replaced by the five-starred red one. Back to the police headquarters, Chai and his colleagues pulled off the old badges on their hats and pinned on the new Bauhinia ones. “The old badge symbolized the British colonization of Hong Kong, which has gone to an end.”
At 00:00 on July 1 in 1997, the national anthem of China started. Chai Ka-Fai was standing upright under the flag pole in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. "I felt so excited when the national flag of PRC and the flag of Hong Kong were raised. I finally found where I belong," said he, when his voice trembled and his eyes turned wet recalling these moments.
He felt excited again when he saw the practice of Chinese-style foot drill for the first time. "More than 30 PLA Guard of Honor members were performing foot drill with rifles in hand. It was amazing and inspiring," he said, with eyes sparkling. He made gestures to express the admiration. "Since that moment, I always wished that someday, Hong Kong policemen would be able to practice Chinese-style foot drill too," he expressed.
From July 1, 2022, the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) will officially adopt the Chinese-style foot drill. Flag raisers will hold the rifles to their chest, walk goose steps with their heads held up high, and give orders in Chinese mandarin.
When we met Chai again, he was full of envy for the young Hong Kong flag raisers today when speaking of the Chinese-style foot drill. "They are going to achieve what I've dreamt for. It’s not an easy change, but I believe the young people of Hong Kong will march forward on the right track," he said. "Every time I walk by the Golden Bauhinia Square in recent days, there is an impulse. If only I had the chance to raise flag in Chinese-style foot drill."