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‘Good or bad, it’s Hong Kong history’ says British colonial museum founder

By Jessie Pang and Joyce Zhou

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Bryan Ong has made it his mission to protect objects that inform the story of Hong Kong’s British colonial previous whilst Beijing more and more shapes life within the metropolis that’s firmly again within the fold of the mainland.

Ong, 42, has been accumulating colonial memorabilia since he was a baby and final 12 months opened The Museum Victoria Metropolis to place his treasures on show, indifferent from rising acrimony between China and Britain, fuelled partially by the colonial legacy.

“Whether or not it’s good or unhealthy, it’s a part of Hong Kong historical past,” Ong mentioned.

His two-storey museum shows navy medals, badges, royal portraits, stamps, banknotes, newspaper clippings and colonial authorities leaflets. It doubles as a memento store.

Ong’s grandmother gave him a medal of a Hong Kong-based British Gurkha soldier as a present when he was a baby, inspiring his fascination with the town’s historical past.

{A partially} burnt British flag recovered from a Warfare World Two battle in Hong Kong, when Japanese forces captured the town, is among the many museum’s most treasured objects.

Hong Kong’s colonial period ended on July 1, 1997, after 156 years, marking for China the return of an integral a part of its territory separated from the motherland for too lengthy by the designs of colonialists.

After pro-democracy protests in 2019, China moved to crack down on dissent and assert its authority over the town in ways in which Britain has mentioned contravened its handover settlement that runs till 2047, drawing offended rebukes from Beijing.

China imposed a nationwide safety regulation on the town in 2020 adopted by reforms to take away from public posts anybody seen as disloyal. Training, the media and different sectors have been more and more beneath strain to indicate patriotism and assist for China’s management.

Ong mentioned he was not fearful concerning the fast-changing political atmosphere.

“I’m a Hong Kong lad. Not British,” Ong mentioned, including he didn’t suppose his museum would irk the authorities.

“We are going to attempt our highest to protect the nice oldies of Hong Kong,” Ong mentioned. “Hold calm and keep on.”

(Reporting by Jessie Pang and Joyce Zhou; Modifying by Marius Zaharia and Robert Birsel)

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