The group formerly known as the British-Chinese Soldiers’ Benevolent Association Ltd. said it had to remove the reference to British soldiers in its name after the government refused to let it provide social services, Apple Daily reported Monday.
The association’s applications for venues and funding last year were rejected, including an attempt to obtain the site of an abandoned public school in Peng Chau at a nominal rental to turn it into a youth services center for non-military training and outdoor activities.
The proposal was submitted to the Peng Chau Rural Committee but ultimately rejected by the Home Affairs Bureau.
The bureau said the organization lacked a track record of holding such activities and, more importantly, the phrase “British soldiers” was too sensitive, the newspaper quoted a source close to the government as saying.
The group’s chairman, Roger Ching Yuen-kee, said the bureau told the group when it applied to use government property in Moreton Terrace in Causeway Bay in 2011 and a site in Peng Chau in 2012 that its plans conflicted with the bureau’s policy.
Ching said the former British soldiers wanted only to offer volunteer services to the community by providing training in discipline and leadership to young people and that the group had nothing to do with politics.
A representative for the bureau said the rejections were not on account of its policy but were due to insufficient information about the group’s experience in organizing such youth activities.
The representative stressed that the bureau will assess an applicant for a short-term lease based on its credibility, experience and operational skills and that the name of the group is not a consideration.
The ex-soldiers’ group eventually renamed itself to the HKOR Benevolent Association Ltd. last year.
The group was formed by discharged British soldiers and registered as a charity organization.
Besides raising funds for the daily needs of some retired soldiers and the members of their families, the association is dedicated to providing charity services in the city.
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