Governors, Politics and The Colonial Office
Public Policy in Hong Kong, 1918?8
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU
Title Page, Copyright Page
The sixteenth book in the Royal Asiatic Society’s Hong Kong Study Series traces the development of political and constitutional conventions, rules that augment or diminish the power of various offices and actors, against a wider backdrop, including the evolution of Hong Kong society and the ebb and fl ow of power between: the Colonial Office; the...
I would like to acknowledge the help and assistance I have received from
a wide range of people and institutions.
I would firstly like to thank the staff of the Hong Kong Public Records Office at Kwun Tong, especially Mr Bernard Hui and his colleagues, for their unfailing helpfulness and assistance. I would also like to thank the staff at the National Archives at Kew, London and the staff...
Who made policy in the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong? Was it Hong Kong’s Governor and his senior civil servants? Or was it the British government through the Secretary of State for the Colonies (hereinafter the “Secretary of State”) and Colonial Office officials? How much influence did leading locally domiciled Chinese, Portuguese and Indian...
2: Governors, Cadets, Unofficials and the Colonial Office
The Hong Kong government was a bureaucracy. Its members, Hong Kong’s civil servants, formed part of a hierarchical organisation. Many of them made a full career in government service. They included professionals who worked in one department or a range of departments and generalists who were posted to different departments to administer and lead them. They were all answerable to the Governor who...
3: The Origins of Policy, 1917–30
The 1920s saw increasing pressures for social change in Hong Kong. These pushed and nudged government towards increasing its reach by adopting new legislation. This was not change led or embraced wholeheartedly by a progressive government; rather, it was change taken hesitantly by a sometimes reluctant one. Tentative initial steps brought slow...
4: Britain's Influence over Hong Kong's Policy, 1929-41
Pressure for change accelerated towards the end of the 1930s. Change was still a slow and tentative process. Hong Kong’s society and economy continued to grow and develop. Its population increased from 850,000 in 1931 to an estimated 1.64 million in 1941, boosted by the estimated 750,000 refugees who entered Hong Kong between 1937 and 1939...
5: Autonomy and the Threat to Sovereignty
The British Crown Colony of Hong Kong was captured by the Japanese army on Christmas Day 1941. British civil government was restored on 1 May 1946 in a form very similar to that of the pre-1941 government. So were many of its policies and personnel. This was not what the Colonial Offi ce had envisaged in 1942. It had concluded then that a restored...
6: Income Tax and Treasury Control
The need to win support from politicians is an integral part of a democratic system. In the closed political world of post-1945 Hong Kong, however, this kind of support might have been thought barely necessary. It has already been seen how malleable local views could be or how a Secretary of State could even disregard them. It has also been shown how..
7: Constitutional Reform and Its Demise
In May 1946, on his return to Hong Kong, Young stated publicly that it was British and Hong Kong government policy to introduce changes to allow “the inhabitants of the territory ... a fuller and more responsible share in the management of their own affairs”.1 Six years later, the Secretary of State announced the time was “inopportune” for major...
8: Post-war Housing Policy and the British Government
The exasperation and frustration in Creech-Jones’ remarks was palpable. He had been asked about Hong Kong’s housing policy by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Colonial Office official responsible for Hong Kong had told him, perhaps not very tactfully, that Hong Kong’s policy was to leave housing to the private sector. For Creech- Jones this only “confirm[ed] what the Archbishop told me”, although...
9: Squatter Resettlement
The Shek Kip Mei fire on Christmas Day 1953 left upwards of 60,000 people homeless. Four months later, a decision had been taken to resettle them into permanent multi-storey accommodation provided at public expense. Within a year, it had become government policy to rehouse all cleared squatters in this manner. This marked a major shift...
10: Financial Autonomy
Britain’s formal granting of financial autonomy to Hong Kong in 1958 had the air of an important turning point in relations between the two governments. Officials in both governments knew, however, that Hong Kong had been exercising de facto financial autonomy for several years beforehand and that the Colonial Office had done nothing to stop it...
There was no clear linear progression in the development of the Hong Kong government’s autonomy. There were too many variables for this to have happened. There were moments when it was able to exercise a degree, even a high degree of autonomy, and others when it was not. Much depended on the circumstances of the time, the political pressure...