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Story of Hong Kong

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From a little fish village to an international financial centre, Hong Kong has experienced a lot of changes. We would like to invite you to look back to the history of Hong Kong, the story of our home.
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《The History of Hong Kong III》 The Foundation for the Rule of Law in Hong Kong

2016-03-10

《The History of Hong Kong III》 The Foundation for the Rule of Law in Hong Kong

2016-03-10
The rule of law is one of the most important cornerstones of Hong Kong. But by whom and when was it put into the social system in Hong Kong?

It probably began when the British people occupied the Hong Kong Island.

Not long after the British people landed on the Hong Kong Island on 25 Jan 1841, Hong Kong was declared a free port, hence buoyant business activities. Warehouses and docks were established, and a large number of Chinese and Europeans were being attracted to come. Economic development also brought problems related to prostitution, gambling and drug. On top of that, there was the pirate problem, and Hong Kong was thus suddenly turned into a lawless place.

As the British people were concerned about their own safety and wanted to preserve public peace, they started to impose strict law enforcement. In addition to capital punishment such as hanging and beheading, prison guards were allowed to use cat-of-nine tails (rattan canes) to cruelly punish the prisoners. Yet, it couldn’t stop the Chinese people from committing crimes and thus the overcrowded prisons became a long term problem. To order to improve the efficiency of her work related to the rule of law, the colonial government put the places for law enforcement, judicial work and correctional service together into one single complex. As such, in 1864, the early stage of the Central Police Station (CPS) Compound, which included a police station, a magistracy and a prison, was established. And it became one of the most important structures built by the early colonial government.

Governor Hennessy, who was appointed in 1877, tried to bring changes. Not only did he banned the use of the inhumane cat-of-nine tails, but he also appointed Ng Choy, who was admitted to the Bar of the United Kingdom, to be the first Chinese Unofficial Member of the Legislative Council, thus showed how seriously he treated the Chinese people.

Entering the 20th century, the level of the rule of law in Hong Kong took one step further. The case of the arrest of Ho Chi Minh reflected the advancement of the judiciary system in Hong Kong at that time. Being one of the founded members of the Vietnamese Communist Party, Ho was wanted by the French Government for his participation in the Vietnam Communist Revolution. A large number of Police were sent to Kowloon City on 6 June 1931 to arrest Ho when he stayed in Hong Kong, and the process of his extradition back to Vietnam was about to begin. Fortunately, Hong Kong lawyer Francis H. Loseby volunteered to represent Ho in court and appealed to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom. Ho was eventually acquitted, and assisted by the Hong Kong Government to leave Hong Kong. In 1945, Ho led the Vietnamese people to free Vietnam from the French colonial rule, and became the Father of Vietnam.

Although the Father of Vietnam was once jailed and stood trial in Hong Kong, his case reflected that the cornerstone of the rule of law had already been stabilized in Hong Kong.
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