Portraits

60s Hong Kong is a portrait of the colony’s most turbulent decade. From it, Hong Kong emerged with an appreciation that its ‘problem of people’ had evolved as its greatest asset.

When Britannia truly ruled the waves, it boasted the mightiest empire that history had known. Spanning one quarter of the globe it would leave a legacy embracing language, the law and an efficient civil service that survived well beyond the twilight of empire. Plumed pith helmets, starched white colonial summer uniforms, medals and ceremonial sword would survive through much of the 20th century in Hong Kong in the guise of Sir Ronald Holmes, Champion of St Michael and St George and Commander of the British Empire.

Standing armed and erect, Sikh guards were familiar figures outside the city’s prestigious jewellery stores, entrances to banks and the portals of its major hotels. Valued in the security industry for their forbidding mien, incorruptibility and reputation as fierce fighters. Sikhs in Hong Kong have a proud tradition of service – initially – in the colony’s army and police force.

Leaders of the Chinese community who served the colonial government played an important role in reflecting society’s views. Some merely rubber-stamped government decisions, others tried faithfully to reflect the will of the people. A recognised leader, Sir Kenneth Fung-Ping-fan, though steeped in Chinese culture, was proud to display his British-awarded honours on the silk of his traditional Chinese gown – melding the culture and communities he served.

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