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‘Cultural Revolution in Hong Kong’: Emergency Powers, Administration of Justice and the Turbulent Year of 1967*

  • RAY YEP (a1)
Abstract

The rule of law has always been cherished as one of the key institutions central to the successful transformation of Hong Kong from ‘a barren rock’ into a global city. The colonial administration's respect for the principles of the rule of law, however, has been tested by sporadic political turbulence during the 150 years of British rule. Due process of law and other key principles of English laws have been compromised by political expediency when the colonizers felt threatened by challenges from various sources. The 1967 Riots was one of those difficult times. Despite the facade of public support for firmness against disturbances enjoyed by the colonial government, the exercise of some of these emergency powers, particularly the powers to detain and deport, remained highly controversial. With normalization of the Anglo-Chinese relationship in mind, the confrontation prisoners constituted a stumbling block for renewing the friendship with Beijing. The various attempts made by London at pressurizing the Hong Kong government for early release of these prisoners attest to the prevalence of political expediency over the respect for the rule of law under colonial rule.

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1 Munn, C. (2001). Anglo-China: Chinese People and British Rule in Hong Kong, 1841–1880, Curzon Press, Richmond.

2 Zhou, Y. (2002). Xianggang Zuopai Duozhengshi (History of Left-wing Struggle in Hong Kong), Leeman Press, Hong Kong, pp. 231233.

3 Cooper, J. (1970). Colony in Conflict, Swindon Book Company, Hong Kong; and Bickers, R. and Yep, R. (eds) (2009). May Days in Hong Kong: Riot and Emergency in 1967, Hong Kong University Press, Hong Kong.

4 The National Archives (TNA), FCO 40/112, Top Secret Inward Telegram from Hong Kong (O.A.G.) to the Commonwealth Office, No. 1046, 16 July 1967.

5 ‘The Hong Kong University Students’ Union Council on the Recent Riot’ (17/5/1967), in Ma Ming (ed.) (1967). The Riot in Hong Kong, Sky Horse Book Company, Hong Kong, p. 30; and Cater, J. (1996). ‘The 1967 Riots’ in Blyth, S. and Wotherspoon, I. (eds) Hong Kong Remembers, Oxford University Press, Hong Kong, p. 7.

6 Hong Kong Hansard, 1967, p. 326.

7 South China Morning Post, 23 May 1967, p. 10.

8 Official Report of Proceedings, Hong Kong Legislative Council, Meeting of 23rd August 1967, p. 390.

9 The Emergency Powers Order in Council, 1939.

10 Tsai, J. (1993). Hong Kong in Chinese History: Community and Social Unrest in the British Colony, 1842–1913, Columbia University Press, New York; and Munn, Anglo-China.

11 Emergency Regulations Ordinance, Section 2.

12 Miners, N. (1996), The Use and Abuse of Emergency Powers by the Hong Kong Government, Hong Kong Law Journal, 26, 4757.

13 Barnett, H. (2002). Constitutional and Administrative Law, 4th Edition, Cavendish Publishing Ltd, London and Sydney, p. 821.

14 Wong, M. (2009). ‘Decolonization and the Use of Emergency Regulations in Hong Kong’, (unpublished manuscript); and Simpson, B. (2001). Human Rights and the End of Empire, Oxford University Press, Oxford, Chapter 17.

15 Wong, ‘Decolonization and the Use of Emergency Regulations in Hong Kong’.

16 Clutterbuck, R. (1973). Riot and Revolution in Singapore and Malaya 1945–1963, Faber and Faber Ltd, London; and Nagl, J. (2002). Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam, Chicago University Press, Chicago and London.

17 Hinchcliffe, P., Ducker, J. and Holt, M. (2007). Without Glory in Arabia: The British Retreat from Aden, I.B. Tauris, London.

18 Elkins, C. (2005). Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya, Henry Holt and Co., New York; and Anderson, D. (2005). Histories of the Hanged: The Dirty War in Kenya and the End of the Empire, W.W. Norton, New York.

19 Jones, C. with Vagg, J. (2007). Criminal Justice in Hong Kong, Routledge/Cavendish, London and New York, Chapter 17.

20 Five cases of life imprisonment for offences related to explosion and manslaughter are excluded here from the calculation of the average length of sentence and average age of offenders.

21 Hong Kong Public Records Office (HKPRO), HKRS 70-1-313E, 14 June 1967, South China Morning Post.

22 HKPRO, HKRS 70-1-313E, 16 June 1967, South China Morning Post.

23 HKPRO, HKRS 70-1-313E, 14 June 1967, South China Morning Post.

1 HKPRO, HKRS 70-1-313E 10 October 1967, South China Morning Post. Tsang eventually became Editor-in-Chief of Tai Kung Pao, the flagship communist paper in Hong Kong and was appointed as Secretary for Home Affairs of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government in 2007.

24 HKPRO, HKRS 70-1-313E, 17 June 1967, South China Morning Post.

25 HKPRO, HKRS 70-1-313F, 24 November 1967, Hong Kong Star.

26 HKPRO, HKRS 70-1-313F, 6 November 1967, Hong Kong Star.

27 Emergency (Principal) (Amendment) Regulations 1967, Hong Kong Government Gazette, 22 July 1967, Supplement to Gazette No. 57.

28 Molan, M., Lanser, D. and Bloy, D. (2000). Principles of Criminal Law, 4th Edition, Cavendish Publishing Ltd, London and Sydney, pp. 111144.

29 Quoted in Simpson, Human Rights and the End of Empire, p. 56.

30 The Committee was the umbrella organization composed of major leftwing organizations set up in the colony in May 1967. It was seen as the headquarters for coordinating the struggle against colonial rule.

31 TNA, FCO 40/54, Telegram No. 1061, ‘From Hong Kong to the Commonwealth Office’, 18 July 1967.

32 TNA, FCO 40/54, Telegram No. 1542, ‘From the Commonwealth Office (The Secretary of State) To Hong Kong (O. A.G.)’, 26 July 1967.

33 TNA, FCO 21/1025, Note No. 31, Maddocks to Addis, 6 April 1972.

34 Zhou, Y. (2002). Xianggang Zuopai Douzhengshi (History of Left-wing Struggle in Hong Kong), p. 287.

35 For example, Parker Tu, Headmaster of Pu Kiu High School was deregistered by the Education Department for poor management and political activities in his school in 1958. The Governor in Council soon issued a deportation order for Tu. Zhou Yi, Xianggang Zuopai Douzhengshi, pp. 173–176.

36 Henry Heath, Commissioner of Police to members of the Working Party on Review on Deportation and Detention, 18 January 1960. Quoted from Jones with Vagg, Criminal Justices in Hong Kong, p. 328.

37 Jones with Vagg, Criminal Justices in Hong Kong, p. 317–318.

38 TNA, (CO) 1030/6, Telegram No. 839, Emergency Regulations, from Hong Kong (Sir A Grantham) to Secretary of State, 24 October 1954.

39 This is referred to as the ‘Double-Tenth Incident in 1956’, an event allegedly instigated by the Guomindang elements in Hong Kong. Shuyong, Liu (ed.) (2009). Jianming Xianggangshi (A Brief History of Hong Kong), Sanlian Shudian, Hong Kong, pp. 378381.

40 TNA, CO 1030/1427, Savingram No. 64, Emergency Regulation, From the Secretary of State for the Colonies to the Officer Administering the Government of Hong Kong, 11 January 1962.

41 TNA, CO 1030/1538, Visit of Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to Hong Kong—January 1966, Brief No. 17: Power of Detention, 31 December 1965.

42 Five cases of life imprisonment for offences related to explosion and manslaughter are excluded from the calculation of the average length of sentences and the average age of offenders here.

43 Data calculated from HKPRO, HKRS 41-2-276 Parts 1, 2, 3.

44 HKPRO, HKRS 41-2-726 (Part 2), Prison No. 26855.

45 Ibid, Prison No. 27100.

46 Data calculated from HKPRO, HKRS 41-2-276 Parts 1, 2, 3.

47 TNA, FCO 40/52, Telegram No. 1876, Hong Kong to Commonwealth Office, 18 December 1967, and Telegram No. 1854, Hong Kong to Commonwealth Office, 11 December 1967.

48 Schoenhals, M. (2005). Why Don't We Arm the Left? Mao's Culpability for the Cultural Revolution's ‘Great Chaos’ of 1967, China Quarterly 182, 277300.

49 Gao, W. (2003). Wannian Zhou Enlai (Zhou Enlai in Twilight Years), Mirror Books, Hong Kong, p. 232.

50 Yep, R. (2008). The 1967 Riots in Hong Kong: The Diplomatic and Domestic Fronts of the Colonial Governor, China Quarterly, 193, 122139.

51 TNA FCO 40/113, Telegram No. 1068, Peking to Foreign Office, 14 August 1967.

52 TNA FCO 21/193, Telegram No. 2047, Commonwealth Office to Hong Kong, 5 October 1967.

53 TNA FCO 21/227, Note No. 133, James Murray to Wilkinson, 2 May 1968.

54 TNA FCO 21/193, Note No. 278, James Murray to Wilkinson, 23 January 1968.

55 TNA FCO 21/193, Telegram No. 50, Hong Kong to Commonwealth Office, 10 January 1968.

56 TNA FCO 21/193, Telegram No. 92, Trench to Commonwealth Office, 19 January 1968.

57 Zhou Yi, Xianggang Zuopai Douzhengshi, pp. 288–290. See also Kuen, Leung Ka et al. . (2001). Secret Stories of the 1967 Riots (Liuqi baodong mixing), Economic Times Press, Hong Kong, pp. 7881.

58 TNA, FCO 40/252, document attached to Note No. 28, titled ‘Deportation to China’, date unspecified.

59 TNA, FCO 40/252, document attached to Note No. 28, prepared by Gaminara, 11 March 1970.

60 TNA, FCO 40/252, document attached to No. 28, Wilson to Appleyard and Carter, 13 February 1970.

61 TNA, FCO 40/262, Note No. 41, Appleyard to Stevenson and Morgan, 6 July 1970.

62 Steve Tsang, Transcript of an interview with Arthur Frederick Maddock, pp. 64–65, Mss. Ind. Ocn. S340 Rhodes House Library, Oxford University.

63 TNA, FCO 40/253, Note No. 80, Maddock to Morgan, 26 November 1970.

64 TNA, FCO 40/253, Note No. 89, Morgan to Tomlinson, Monson and Deas, 31 December 1970.

65 TNA, FCO 40/253, attached to Note No. 89, Monson to Tomlinson, 4 January 1971.

66 HKPRO, HKRS 179-1-19 (Part 4), Wilford to Maddock, 12 December 1970.

67 TNA, FCO 40/329, Guidelines for the Governor Designate, Hong Kong: Paper C, 18 October 1971.

70 TNA, FCO 21/1025, SCR 7/3371/68 II, Hong Kong to FCO, 6 July 1972.

71 TNA, FCO 21/1025, Telegram No. 1205, Peking to FCO, 2 November 1972.

72 The Hong Kong Government did achieve a token victory by successfully removing Ho Cheung, a prisoner with a 25-year sentence for murder from the list of confrontation prisoners on technical grounds. The crime was committed in 1967, but Ho fled to the mainland afterwards. Ho returned to Hong Kong in 1971 and was subsequently arrested. TNA, FCO 21/1141, Davies to Clark, 3 May 1973, and FCO 21/1141, Telegram No. 72, Hong Kong to Peking, 28 April 1973.

73 Simpson, Human Rights and the End of Empire, Chapter 2.

74 Perenboom, R. (2002). China's Long March toward Rule of Law, Cambridge University Press, New York, Chapter 3.

76 Quoted from Simpson, B. (2002). The Devlin Commission (1959): Colonialism, Emergencies, and the Rule of Law, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 22:3, 36.

77 Simpson, , The Devlin Commission, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 22:3, 37.

78 Li, Y. (2007). Canjia Fanying Kangbao di Rizi (Days of involvement in the anti-colonial struggle), Apple Daily, 6 May 2007, A. 14.

79 Hong Kong Government (1968). Events in Hong Kong-1967: An Official Report, Hong Kong Government Printer, Hong Kong.

80 Wilkinson, S. (2009). Riots, Annual Review of Political Science, 12, 329343.

* The author would like to thank Lui Tai Lok, Max Wong, Ian Scott, Ngo Tak Wing, Cheung Chor Yung and the three reviewers of this paper for their insightful comments. Generous financial support was provided by the Faculty of Humanity and Social Sciences, City University of Hong Kong.

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Modern Asian Studies
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