'Cultural revolution in Hong Kong' : Emergency powers, administration of justice and the turbulent year of 1967

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1007-1032
Journal / PublicationModern Asian Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012


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. © 2011 Cambridge University Press.