'Flying MPs' and political change in a colonial setting: Political reform under MacLehose's governorship of Hong Kong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

A colonial situation is a political setting characterised by an unequal power relation between the metropole and the colony. It is also characterised by a lack of transparency in policymaking, with the former being able to impose its agenda on the latter. Yet, at the level of everyday experience, the colonised may not be aware of such political opacity and simply fail to recognise its full implications. This chapter explores the political changes in the former British colony of Hong Kong in the 1970s under the governance of a popular governor, Murray MacLehose. Many locals believed MacLehose to be a benevolent colonial governor, driving many changes in administration and social services. At the same time, the 1970s also witnessed the emergence of a local political agenda and local social movements. Many observers assume that it must have been either MacLehose or local protests that brought about the reforms in the local administration. However, based on archival study of the decision-making behind the political changes effected by the colonial government in the late 1970s, I argue that whilst local protests did help to exert pressure on the government, it was a different political agenda in London, particularly that shaped by Labour Party backbenchers in parliament, that triggered some of the most significant changes within the colonial state apparatus. The source of socio-political changes in a colony is often opaque and on many occasions beyond the imagination of locals. Copyright © 2017 selection and editorial matter, Michael H.K. Ng and John D. Wong; individual chapters, the contributors.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCivil unrest and governance in Hong Kong: Law and order from historical and cultural perspectives
EditorsMichael H. K. NG, John D. WONG
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
PublisherRoutledge
Pages76-96
ISBN (Electronic)9781315537252
ISBN (Print)9781138689978
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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political reform
political change
Hong Kong
political agenda
protest
colonial government
everyday experience
Labour Party
Social Movements
parliament
mobile social services
transparency
governance
decision making
reform
lack

Citation

Lui, T.-L. (2017). 'Flying MPs' and political change in a colonial setting: Political reform under MacLehose's governorship of Hong Kong. In M. H. K. Ng & J. D. Wong (Eds.), Civil unrest and governance in Hong Kong: Law and order from historical and cultural perspectives (pp. 76-96). Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.