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Navigation menu Personal tools Create account Log in. Namespaces Page Discussion. Views Read View source View history. Create a bio Create a company page. A simple box was then placed facing the incoming traffic to create a focal point and to balance out the whole architectural composition. To make it stand out, the box features about 20, glass blocks with a secret garden hidden inside. The facade changes its look perpetually following the condition of sunlight and the shifting shadow of trees.
At night, the glass blocks are illuminated turning them into a giant glass lantern. The glass blocks used for the project are rectangular as opposed to those conventional square-shaped type. They also have extended edges or wings to cover most of the grouting reducing the width to 2 mm instead of 10 mm as usual.
There is evidence to suggest that consequently colonial leaders occasionally adopted a restrained approach towards governance. Colonial control was indeed relatively subtle during the turn of the century. Yet, the colonial government continued to cling to power. How were they able to accomplish this?
As we will see, informal modes of discrimination permeated the colony, despite the officially egalitarian stance of British law. In what ways was informal discrimination utilized by the colonial government in reaction to changes within the colony? In turn, how did the Chinese in the colony respond to such discrimination? I argue that the use of informal discrimination by the colonial government was part of a broader low-key, ambivalent, and utilitarian relationship between the colonial government and the Chinese residents of the colony, particularly the wealthy Chinese elite.
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Despite facing informal discrimination, the Chinese elite needed the support of colonial leaders to advance its long-term goals, and thus maintained a respectful attitude towards the government. The government thus reacted to the activities of the Chinese elite in an ambivalent manner, maintaining a cordial relationship with the elite primarily when it was advantageous to do so. Where the interests of both groups did not align, the government often acted prejudicially towards the elite. How did the colonial government react when crises tested the precarious and carefully constructed social fabric of Hong Kong?
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It retained extraordinary measures for these occasions. During the revolution in China, the colonial government imposed disproportionately draconian rule over Hong Kong. I argue that such measures, although seemingly sudden, in fact held their basis in decades of colonial attitudes, decisions, and policies.
As we will see, the revolution in China invoked irrational fears of insurrection in the colony, many of which played on long-held prejudices against the Chinese residents of Hong Kong, particularly lower-class Chinese workers. Paranoia led to the implementation of authoritarian policies and decisions. Southern China had been no stranger to European influence for at least three centuries.
In , Portuguese merchants established a colony in Macau, where trade flourished under the ever-watchful gaze of Qing officials. These Portuguese foreigners never held any real political power under this arrangement, and were regularly subjected to severe regulations and restrictions by the Qing government, whose interest in their economic activities was tepid at best.
Because the Chinese empire could afford to be essentially autarkic with regards to its foreign and economic policies, this state of affairs continued to exist for the next two hundred years. Three centuries later, the balance of power had shifted. The nineteenth century saw a progressively deteriorating Qing dynasty succumb to the ever-increasing machinations of European powers. The Queen [Victoria] has ordered the militia to be mobilised in England and all the available warships armed.
This has caused a great stir here. But everybody knows the target of these warlike preparations. It will be rather ironic 24 Munn, Anglo-China, Rather, the maneuvering was actually against the French themselves. This was quite normal in a multipolar world in which two powers, convenient friends in one moment, could very easily become bitter enemies in the next.
It is against this backdrop of multipolarity that we begin our study with Sir Henry Blake, as well as his role in the ninety-nine-year lease that saw the New Territories ceded to British jurisdiction. Almost from the very start, he had to contend with a variety of threats. Multipolarity involves constant scheming, and thus competitors within a multipolar system must constantly take the initiative. Evera is mainly concerned with the European theater, but similar patterns occurred in China, if on a slightly lesser scale.
Territorial expansion was the means by which these powers could be reassured of the safety of their overseas possessions. This was especially true for the British, because of Hong Kong, and for whom the New Territories was now next on the plate. The appointment of Governor Blake seemed highly appropriate given these circumstances. From relatively humble origins in Limerick, in Ireland, he rose through the Irish Constabulary to a magisterial position, before becoming governor of the Bahamas in , Newfoundland in , and Jamaica in as well as British Ceylon in , after his term in Hong Kong ended.
Blake himself must have been familiar with territorial changes and disputes. The long siege was at length to be raised. The veil was at last to be lifted from those mysterious hills! The military could now at least feel free from the menace of hostile guns, the navy could now at least carry out minor exercises in their own 27 Geoffrey Robley Sayer, Hong Kong Years of Discretion, ed. During the eight-month interim period, Major General Wilsone Black served as the acting head of government in Hong Kong. Qing China ceded control of the New Territories willingly, at least on paper, but the inhabitants of the region were evidently not pleased.
For instance, Sayer disregards the Six-Day War of , a brief but fierce period of local resistance against the British occupation. The aftermath of the conflict saw local acceptance of British sovereignty in the region, in return for a guarantee that the British authorities would allow local pre-existing legal traditions and customs to continue largely unhindered. One possibility may be derived from R. The transfer process was troublesome enough that the British government had to ask the Viceroy of Canton for military assistance.
They helped to quell the more serious cases of unrest, which was directed not only against the government, but also between local villages themselves. In other words, additional British effort became superfluous, the moment the primary objective of sovereignty and the security of Hong Kong had been achieved. Another basic but equally possible reason, which we will now explore in depth, is that the British authorities may have simply lacked sufficient know-how in handling the local population.
This is particularly true if one considers the fact that most locals were commoners or were otherwise raised with little Western influence, and thus sometimes completely alien to any British system of governance. In this argument, the New Territories acquisition stands out as a landmark example of a new method of British colonial governance towards the turn of the century, one in which the government occasionally turned towards a relatively hands-off approach, or a form of social laissez-faire.
This was because policy and law could not be created or executed based on flimsy, imperfect, or otherwise poor knowledge without serious drawbacks. Policy requires substance, of which the British colonial administration had generally been lacking in from the very start, as was indeed the case in the New Territories. Restraint in jurisdictional matters The case Ip Tsung Nin v. Kwong Tse King is a fascinating example of colonial restraint put into actual practice. The case surrounded an alleged act of piracy in which the plaintiff suffered the loss of a junk on the high seas.
The plaintiff was reportedly a Chinese subject.
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What is surprising and relevant, however, is the basis on which the appellate court rejected it. Rather, the Chief Justice argued that the Attorney General had, by merely participating in the case, already committed gross overreach in his role as a public figure. In , as it is today, the Attorney General was the main and often sole legal representative of the government within the courts.
The most obvious ramification was that the government was now indelibly linked to what was supposed to be a civil case, or at least would have been, had Piggott allowed the appeal to progress any further. Because the plaintiff now appellant was not a British subject, the 34 The reasons for the original dismissal are not available. Piggott thus coldly informed the Attorney General: It would introduce a great difficulty, a grave prejudice to the public, if the Government might arbitrarily take up a case in which private parties are concerned… I personally am of opinion that your appearance on behalf of a private party amounts to an interference with the administration of justice which is a question of public order, and which the court is bound to take notice of: but it might be put on the lower ground that the court is bound to take notice of the status of any person appearing before it.
Piggott believed that the potential dangers of government intervention far outweighed the benefits, and he was clearly not willing to negotiate on this matter. There are indeed many lessons to be learned from Ip Tsung Nin v. Kwong Tse King. For aspiring legal professionals, the case is likely a lesson in appropriate proportionality. The Attorney General had gravely misapprehended what was at stake. A prosecutor must not act with reckless abandon, even if the government which that prosecutor represents so happens to control 37 Of course, the government could not become involved with every private case even if it wanted to, and so interferences such as these were almost definitely measured calculations designed to uphold the legitimacy of the colonial administration.
For historians of the law, this case also demonstrates a changing attitude towards the concept of jurisdiction, as well as the measures necessary to enforce it. Recalling the classic case of Attorney General of Hong Kong v. Smale had in advocated for a judicial position completely opposite to that of Piggott in Conversely, in Piggott rejected extrajurisdictional intervention out of hand, even though the basis for such an intervention, if disproportionate, was nevertheless still present.
In , restraint was clearly considered a valid and often superior option within jurisdictional matters, compared to earlier years when British ships actively hunted for Chinese pirates in Chinese waters. At risk of sounding overly Machiavellian, it must be suggested that the only clear reason for the shift is that the British courts, simply put, increasingly found intervention to be less and less of a politically advantageous solution to British woes.
Smale discussed a controversy surrounding the application of violent corporal punishment. Commenting on an earlier case, in which he had sentenced a prisoner to two years of hard labour and fifty strokes of the whip for the crime of child-stealing, Smale stated: I have always hitherto, when I have sentenced an offender to be flogged, directed that he should be flogged in public.
Individually, I hold that the deterrent effect of flogging as a prevention of crime - brutal and brutalising as it is - is in the publicity of that punishment. This has been the expressed opinion of each judge who from to has from this Bench each directed the flogging to be public. I could not depart from such precedents, but Mr Justice Snowden has held that the court is not bound by such precedents, and he has uniformly directed the flogging to be in private.
I may as well defer to his high authority[. It certainly helped that abolitionism was in vogue back in the British metropole, but the real driving factor was judicial utilitarianism. In the trial of Kwok A-sing, Smale had previously found abolitionism useful as a crutch for interventionism. Domestically, he held a similarly utilitarian attitude towards flogging, a punishment that was usually directed towards the inculcation of public obedience through fear. This explains why he only reluctantly permitted the floggings in question to be conducted in private.
An editorial note by W. Such evaluations of progressiveness are retroactive labels that are unfairly imposed on past figures and events by modern commentators. After all, from where else could Smale have derived moral approval or the lack thereof of his own judgements, at the time? The only conceivable metric that Smale could use was to assess each sentence or punishment based on its practical effectiveness.
The decline in utilitarian value reflects strongly in the total number of floggings, not just the number of public floggings, during this period of relative non-violent punishment. Even the magistracy, which Munn contends was ineffectual with its tendency to 41 Ibid. Figure 1. Flogging was at times extremely popular. Nevertheless, it hit a record 43 Munn, Anglo-China, Magisterial courts originally blended European law with Qing Chinese-inspired punishments. Ostensibly, the goal was to help integrate the courts into Chinese culture, but in practice, magistrates often unfairly and summarily passed down harsh judgements.
The goal of this graph is to demonstrate that flogging had a long history in the colony, but only saw increasing usage due to three major changes in the colony. As a general trend, flogging was on the decline. The trend was not linear, but instead subject to fluctuation. To accurately demonstrate the varied history of flogging, I have included statistics as far back as , to avoid a skewed interpretation of the numbers. There are also several details to note: the first peak in the number of floggings, around , is perhaps attributable to the British response to what Tsai considers to be the first wave of nationalism in Hong Kong, and the subsequent effect on the lower classes.
The attentive reader may also note that, prior to the s, flogging also seems to have been relatively underutilized. However, when one accounts for population growth, it is quite remarkable, excluding periods of tension, that the rate of violent punishment post was not as high as it should have been. Restraint in matters concerning British legal values and prestige Controversy over corporal punishment indeed played a role in the courts, but sometimes, the ineffectual nature of colonial policy resulted from far simpler difficulties. The impediments of language were not only restricted to the lower courts and petty crimes.
In the Supreme Court case of Rex v Kwok Leung and Others, potential murder convictions and the mandatory death penalty were discarded because the defendants could understand neither English nor Cantonese, which were the two languages in which the case was being conducted. For Tsai, this first peak corresponds to the years Whatever appeal nationalism had towards coolies in the s was connected more to their own physiological needs, than the lofty abstract ideals of Chinese nationalist elites. Regardless, the colonial government adopted hardline policies against protests and strikes, out of a conservative fear of radicalism, even though the basis for such lower-class unrest was only weakly based in nationalist thought.
The defendants, three Chinese coolies, were put on trial for the killing of a fellow worker, but all three were Hok Lo Hokkien and thus could not understand what was going on. Their defense counsel, a man by the name of Calthrop, also failed to acquire proper translation for the three coolies. As it turned out, his request paid off, as Chief Justice Piggott soon quashed the convictions, based on the argument that the coolies did not even understand the charges under which they had been found guilty.
Language barriers were usually not substantial enough to seriously impede the administration of justice. For the court, fault lay entirely with the defendants, or more accurately, their legal representative. The case Rex. Allegedly, Lee in addition to his employment as a court clerk, Lee also held some kind of secret official post within the Chinese government.
Piggott could have simply chosen to lambast Calthrop and uphold the judgement. He did not. What makes this case doubly interesting is that it spawned an entirely new discussion among members of the judiciary, separate from the details of the original case. In court records, the justices agonized over whether language barriers compelled the court to acquit. Some in the judiciary must have believed that court procedure was paramount. Others, however, attached a moral significance to the case. I think it goes further, and requires an actual mental apprehension of the proceedings. I have little doublt [sic] that the law, as 49 Ibid.
In fact, after the original decision, the coolies were mostly left out of the discussion, which subsequently centered around the implications which the case had on the morality of British justice. Piggott was only concerned with the impact which the language barriers had on the appearance of British justice, not the impact which it had on the defendants. What were their feelings? We may never know, as their perspective is entirely absent from court documents of the trial.
Rex v. Kwok Leung served as a reminder to the colonial courts that simple difficulties could have serious consequences on colonial governance and justice. The official explanation for the decision in this case was that moral integrity of British law had to be preserved, even if this meant letting potential murderers escape justice.
But, like his predecessor Smale, Piggott was not only concerned about morality for its own sake. At least in Rex v. Kwok Leung, he realized that a reckless judicial decision could have seriously damaged the prestige of the Supreme Court, not just in the eyes of the local Chinese community, but also the community back in Britain.
Piggott thus opted for a more restrained and practical approach. It stands out as yet another landmark example of colonial pragmatism, in a time when a rising Hong Kong began to encounter a myriad of threats.
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Kwok Leung, Piggott and Gompertz adopted a paternalistic tone. How much individual temperament goes into influencing judicial decisions will always be a controversial matter worthy of discussion, but these cases suggest that such influence was entirely possible in colonial Hong Kong. One comment that may be safely made, though, is that Supreme Court justices were certainly not some monolithic entity dedicated towards the indiscriminate suppression of Chinese 39 residents in the colony. Rather, each justice considered the merits of individual cases as they stood within their respective contexts, even if his accuracy in doing so was highly debatable.
In one way or another, restraint was also present in such legal concerns as the limits of jurisdiction, the application of corporal punishment, and the moral consideration of British values in law. As we will see in the next chapter, the colonial government often acted far more nefariously in the application of law and policy. Colonial restraint was a reaction to earlier experience in the 19th century, when draconian rule achieved mixed results, due to the fundamental inability of the colonial administration and courts to accurately understand and solve societal problems.
So far, our analysis has brought attention to some of the most infamous instances of disorder that the colony of British Hong Kong ever faced. This is an accurate pursuit in one sense: cases such as Rex v Kwok Leung revealed both the best and worst of the Supreme Court, as it struggled to achieve its fullest potential in the face of great pressure.
Yet, as a matter of representation, this apparent preponderance of criminality does not hold up to scrutiny. As official documents reveal, most Supreme Court cases were not of the criminal type. Ever the diligent record-keepers, colonial bureaucrats painstakingly compiled detailed annual reports of the situation in Hong Kong, ranging from matters of finance, to education, sanitation, transportation, and other facets of daily life in the colony.
The best-known of these are arguably the Blue Books, thusly named because they were literally bound in blue cover. Other documents are laden with commentary, rather than being solely data-based: these include the Sessional Papers, the Administrative Reports, the Hong Kong Hansard, and the Hong Kong Government Gazette. They were meant to record the statistical history of the colony, not just for the sake of historical antiquarianism, but to actively and meaningfully demonstrate that progress had been made over the course of many decades.
To put things candidly, despite the factual content present within these reports, their composers were likely lacking in the purity of their authorial intentions. As a major institution, the Supreme Court regularly contributed to the Administrative Reports, conjuring a summary for each of its subdivisions in every annual publication.
The scrupulousness of these reports cannot be understated: each financial figure was narrowed down to the exact cent. Every individual case was counted and put into the final tally of the appropriate category. This is because cases dealt with prodigious quantities of money and capital. It certainly demonstrated great capabilities in situations of domestic crisis or national prestige, but such situations were the exception, not the norm. Money, instead, was the greatest motivator.
As we will see, the Supreme Court did not necessarily treat each mercantile firm equally, and arguably placed a higher or lower burden of proof on certain companies depending on their regional, socioeconomic, or ethnic origin. While such discrimination may not have significantly 54 Ibid. Judicial discrimination thus ran contrary to the objective of colonial cooperation and economic progress.