L6 - Spring 2004 L6 Lecture 6 The Early Colonial Regime and...

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Unformatted text preview: Spring 2004 L6 Lecture 6 The Early Colonial Regime and the 1966-67 Riots (A) Politics before 1967 The large Hongs (British Trading Firms) had the most political power in the system. They were well represented in the Exco and Legco. The colonial governance relied on co-opting the local gentry class (士紳階級) , mostly local Chinese businessmen. They provided the linkage between the local Chinese society and the govt, and gave information to the govt for decisionmaking. The channels of co-optation of local elite (Chinese or expatriate) included the Exco, the Legco, UC, the honors lists, the Tung Wah group of hospitals, Justice of the Peace’s (太平紳士), Po Leung Kuk, various consultative committees, etc.. Men of wealth, who wanted to increase their prestige and influence through government positions, would seek entry to the above channels. A synarchy (共治) was built consisting of the British bureaucrats and the local businessmen. Power in Hong Kong resides in the Jockey Club, Jardine-Matheson, the Hong Kong Bank, and the Governor House, in that order. The bureaucrats largely controlled the policy-making process. There were no full-time politicians, no political parties, no meaningful elections, and very few channels of political participation, thus few social and political demands on govt. (B) Society before 1967 refugee society: those who came to Hong Kong were refugees who were more willing to accept colonial rule and did not have a lot of expectations for the 1 Spring 2004 L6 colonial government. They also did not have a strong sense of identification with HK and had stronger identification with mainland China or Taiwan. The government did not try to intervene into the economy and did not try to penetrate into society to control the society. Weak social groups to play the role of communication and bridges. The only more influential groups were clan associations or hometown associations, charity organizations, neighborhood associations, etc. They could provide services for the needy but did not pose an important communication or participation channel. Very little social welfare before 1970s. There was almost no labor legislation, no labor holidays, very few labor protection laws, no retirement or other benefits. The colonial government saw financial self-sufficiency as a most important goal, and the powerful British merchants also objected to more social welfare. High income disparity and high unemployment rate. It was estimated that unemployment rate was around 15-20% throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Rampant Corruption within the civil service, the police force and the private sector. Both the administration and the police was unpopular before the 1970s. (C) Social Disturbances before 1967 The 1951 “March 1st Incident” (三一事件). Fire at Tung Tau Tsuen (東頭村) made 14,000 homeless, a lot of them leftist union members. The leftist press demanded the government to rebuild the houses, and the Guangdong government organized a delegation to Hong Kong to help the campaign. The delegation was cancelled because of British opposition. The masses that waited at the Kowloon train station to greet the delegation rioted. One was killed, 18 were sentenced to jail, and 12 were deported. October 10, 1956—the Kowloon riot (九龍暴動). Govt officials removed a Kuomintang (KMT) (國民黨) flag in Li Cheng Uk Estate. The pro-KMT masses started a riot and attacked leftist newspapers, schools and labor unions. The riot lasted about one week, leading to work stoppages and paralysis of transportation in various parts of Kowloon and Tsuen Wan, causing numerous deaths. More 2 Spring 2004 L6 than 1,700 people were sentenced. (D) The 1966 Riot In March 1966, the Star Ferry announced that it was going to raise its fare by 5 cents. This was followed by a raise in the postal fee and public housing rents by 10%. Public opinion was generally opposed to the fee-hikes. Elsie Tu (葉錫恩) started a signature campaign against the fee-hike, and got 200,000 signatures in a short period of time. On April 4, 1966, a young man So Sau-chung 蘇守忠 started a hunger strike at the pier, and was joined by 11 others. The next day So was arrested by the police. This led to widespread demonstrations and more arrests of demonstrators. On the morning of April 6, people began to attack the police. This eventually led to a riot, which lasted several days over most parts of Kowloon. Rioters damaged cars, shop windows and set fire on the street. One was killed, and more than 1,000 were arrested. The govt. appointed a commission to investigate the causes of the riot. The report concluded that the riot was not organized, and most of the rioters were young males who came from the poorest section of the population. Long working hours (60-70 hours per week), poor social conditions, and limited upward mobility were seen as causes. Many young males had long-standing hostility against the police, and a chance for confrontation with the police excited them. The report also concluded that there was little communication between the government and the public. The use of English as the official language and the absence of local govt. offices mean a deficiency in communication. The govt did not propose any reforms to improve the situation. The Star Ferry was allowed to raise its fees by 5 cents on April 26. (E) The 1967 Riot 3 Spring 2004 L6 Background Income disparity, little welfare protection for the lower class, widespread corruption, dissatisfaction against the colonial government, etc., were major background conditions for the 1967 riots. Mao Tse-tung (毛澤東) started the Cultural Revolution in 1966, which led to a rise of “revolutionary sentiment” among the leftists in Hong Kong. The “leftist” (pro-PRC) organizations in Hong Kong were under the direct leadership of the Hong Kong and Macau Working Committee (港澳工作委員會) of the Chinese Communist Party. They included schools, labor unions, banks, department stores, newspapers, community organizations, all under close surveillance by the Hong Kong government. In 1966, the leftist organizations in Macau initiated a general strike, which paralysed the Portuguese-led government, and "liberated" Macau. All KMT representatives were driven out of Macau, and the government apologized and agreed to many demands of the leftists. Hong Kong's leftist organizations were encouraged and thought they could do the same in Hong Kong. Chronology of Events There were a series of labor disputes in the early months of 1967. In April-May 1967, a labor dispute broke out in a plastic flower factory in San Po Kong, since the employer cut pay and made changes to employment conditions. On May 6, 1967, the sit-in protest by the workers in front of the factory was suppressed by the police, with 21 workers arrested. The leftist unions and schools organized their members and students to support the workers in front of the factory and clashed with the police on May 11. On that day, 127 people were arrested, one killed, and 11 injured. The police imposed a curfew (宵禁) in central Kowloon. The leftist organizations and newspapers began to politicize and escalate the conflict. The Chinese Foreign Ministry's (中國外交部) declaration on May 13 offered support to the leftist movement in Hong Kong. Red guards (紅衛兵) in mainland cities demonstrated in front of correspondence offices of the British government, in support of the movement in Hong Kong. On May 16, the 港九各 4 Spring 2004 L6 界反對港英迫害鬥爭委員會(鬥委會) was set up, mostly made up of leaders of leftist unions and organizations. May 19, leftist organizations began to rally supporters to demonstrate in front of the Governor House. On May 22, thousands of riot police dispersed the crowds and arrested 167 people. Turning Point 1: The leftist unions began to initiate strikes on May 23. There were sporadic strikes and clashes with the police. On June 3, the editorial of the People's Daily (人民日報) offered support to Hong Kong leftists. There were numerous support rallies and demonstrations by Red Guards in the mainland. The leftist leaders in Hong Kong believed that China was going to take back HK soon. The HK govt began to suppress the leftist movement in June, bringing violent clashes between leftist activists and the police. Police raided headquarters of leftist organizations, including leftist unions, cinemas, department stores, and arrested their leaders. The leftists began a general strike on June 24. Leftist schools went on strike on June 27. The strike created inconveniences but did not paralyze Hong Kong, and the movement began to lose support from the public. Turning Point 2: the leftists began to launch bomb attacks (real and fake) against targets after mid-July. The leftists lost further support from the public. The govt. promulgated a series of emergency regulations on July 19, which gave extensive power to the police to persecute the leftists. The police stepped up on the arrests of the leftists and clashed with the rioters. More and more organizations and newspapers voiced support for the govt to use tough means to restore order. On August 9, police searched and closed three leftist newspapers – Tin Fung Daily News, New Evening News, and Hong Kong Evening News (田豐日報、新 午報、香港夜報). This led to the burning of the British correspondence office in Beijing by the Red Guards on August 22. The act was criticized by the Beijing leaders. 5 Spring 2004 L6 Turning Point 3: the death of broadcaster Lam Bun (林彬) and his cousin on August 24. The public opinion totally turned against the leftists. The riots began to die down as more and more leftist leaders were arrested, and it became apparent that Beijing was not supporting the riots. The riots ended in December. More than 800 injuries, 51 killed, thousands were arrested, and hundreds were deported. Effects of the 1967 Riots (a) The leftist organizations were seriously hurt and became very unpopular. Their experience in 1967 led to their hatred towards the colonial govt, and made some of them adopt an even more radical attitude towards mainstream society afterwards. (b) Ironically, the colonial govt had a rise in legitimacy, as more Hong Kong people saw the colony as a shelter from the turmoil in China. This, coupled with the social reforms in 1970s, led to more stable governance in HK and higher popularity for the govt. (c) Sensing the crisis and the severity of social problems, the colonial govt began to adopt a series of reforms in the 1970s. Subsequent Reforms (A) Reforms in Government The CDO scheme (民政主任計劃) The New Territories experience with the District Office(理民府) was seen as a success. The CDOs (民政主任) were responsible for receiving complaints, publicising government policy, and liaising with local leaders. Expansion of the advisory committee system to consult public opinion. Some 140 were established in the 1970s. The colonial government claimed itself was a “consultative democracy”. (諮詢式民主) The establishment of the Office of Unofficial Members of the Executive and Legislative Council (UMELCO) (行政立法兩局議員辦事處) for handling complaints from the public. 6 Spring 2004 L6 The use of Chinese as an official language. The set up of ICAC in 1974 to combat corruption. (B) Labor and Welfare Reforms A comprehensive labor legislation was passed in 1968-69. It limited working hours to no more than 8 hours a day or 48 hours a week, introduced maternity leave, paid leave of no less than 4 days per month, annual paid leave, sickness allowance, severance payments, etc.. The building of public housing under MacLehose with a goal to house 1.8 million people The Hong Kong government began to push more social protection and social welfare on various fronts. 7 ...
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This note was uploaded on 09/16/2010 for the course SOSC SOSC198 taught by Professor Michelle during the Spring '09 term at HKUST.

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