• Thu
  • Jul 24, 2014
  • Updated: 6:23am

Ten Years On - Key events in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2007, 12:00am

97


July At midnight on June 30, after 156 years of British rule, Hong Kong reverts to China. First light on July 1 finds 4,000 PLA troops crossing the border. The last governor, Chris Patten, bows out; the first chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Tung Chee-hwa, is sworn in


August Signal No 9 is hoisted for Typhoon Victor. Briton Tom Larmour perishes in the stormy sea while trying to save two students swept away in Stanley


Seven Hong Kong tourists die when their tour boat capsizes in 1.5-metre waves in Manila Bay on August 15. Forty-eight people were crammed onto the vessel, licensed to carry 17


An unmarked police car driven by detective Ngai Wai-kwong, 37, ploughs into a lunchtime crowd in Central, killing three people and injuring 10


September More than 14,000 finance ministers, bankers, officials, businessmen and journalists converge at the annual World Bank and International Monetary Fund conference in Hong Kong on September 19


October In his maiden policy address, Tung Chee-hwa sets out housing, welfare and education policies


The government releases 278 Vietnamese boat people from High Island detention centre on October 14, after a legal ruling that it has no right to hold them


A woman creates a stir when she outbids top property developers with her HK$890 million offer for a 57,000 sq ft commercial site in Kowloon Bay. The woman then reveals she has no money


A wave of panic selling over fears for Hong Kong's currency stability sends the Hang Seng Index tumbling 1,200 points - more than 10.4 per cent - on October 23


November Unfounded rumours of cash-flow problems spark a run on the International Bank of Asia, as panicking depositors queue to withdraw their money


Miss Asia beauty pageant winner Janice Chu Yin-chun is stripped of her title when organisers learn that she's married - in violation of contest rules


December More than a million chickens are slaughtered in the city's no-nonsense bid to nip an alarming bird flu epidemic in the bud


98


January An ill-advised US$269 million loan to an Indonesian taxi firm drives Peregrine Holdings investment bank to collapse, sending shudders through an already unsteady stock market


February Financial secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen proposes cuts to salary and profit taxes in his economic stimulus plan


March Secretary for justice Elsie Leung Oi-sie decides not to prosecute Hong Kong Standard owner Sally Aw Sian over circulation fraud


May Democrats taste sweet revenge with a sweeping victory in the first post-1997 Legislative Council election after being ousted from the provisional legislature


June Amid panic of a recession, Tung Chee-hwa announces a four-part package to salvage the stricken economy, in particular the property sector


July Crowds witness the end of an era as the last planes land over their heads at Kai Tak. There are red faces all round the next day, July 6, when technical blunders mar the opening of Chek Lap Kok airport


August Breaking with policy, the government spends HK$120 billion on an energetic spree in the stock market, jerking the Hang Seng Index back up from a five-year low of 6,660


September Hongkongers make headlines around the world when thousands queue at McDonald's outlets every day for a month to collect free Snoopy dolls


October Observers hail a new era in Sino-European trade relations as British prime minister Tony Blair spends two days in Hong Kong after a visit to mainland China - in which deals worth US$800 million are signed


November A court sentences notorious criminal 'Big Spender' Cheung Tze-keung to death for serious crimes committed in Hong Kong. But the court is in Guangzhou, sparking fears of a loss of judicial independence


December Racing in Hong Kong gets an international black eye when several jockeys are arrested in a race-fixing racket busted by the ICAC. Former apprentice jockey Keith Kwok-ting is jailed for six months for taking up to HK$180,000 to fix races


Windsurfing Olympian and local golden girl Lee Lai-shan leads a parade of Hong Kong athletes to the victor's podium at the Asian Games in Bangkok. The other gold medalists are cycling ace Wong Kam-po, wushu artist Ng Siu-ching, the snooker team of Marco Fu Ka-chun, Chan Wai-tat and Chan Kwok-ming and tenpin bowler Hui Cheung-kwok


99


March Critics hammer the government for favouring tycoons when the Cyberport project is granted, without public tender, to a group headed by Richard Li Tzar-kai, son of tycoon Li Ka-shing


Elsie Leung survives a confidence vote in the legislature over her handling of the Sally Aw case


Female jockey Willy Kan Wai-yu, 20, dies in a fall at Sha Tin


April The gruesome 'Hello Kitty' killing shocks Hong Kong. After weeks of torture, Fan Man-yee, 23, is killed, dismembered and parts of her skull stuffed into a giant Hello Kitty doll. Two men are jailed for life and another for 18 years


May More than 10,000 civil servants take to the streets to oppose government proposals on civil service reform - including the privatisation of their departments


June Beijing overrules the Court of Final Appeal, fuelling debate about who's in charge: its ruling on mainlanders' right of abode in Hong Kong is set aside by the National People's Congress Standing Committee, acting at the request of the government, which feared a deluge of mainlanders moving to the city


August Trying to land at Chek Lap Kok in a typhoon is the most fundamental of the grave errors made by the pilot of a China Airlines flight: the crash, in which the plane is flipped onto its back, kills three and injures 200


September Signal 10 is raised for Typhoon York, which kills two and injures dozens


November Mickey is coming to town: the government announces plans to build a Disneyland theme park at Penny's Bay


December Critics see 'a great leap backward for democracy' when it is announced that the two elected municipal councils will be scrapped from January 1


00


January Construction is halted on two housing blocks in Sha Tin after sub-standard piling rods are discovered. News of the scandal spreads, making many families fear for the safety of their public-housing homes.


February Dotcom madness strikes when a public offering by internet company tom.com, owned by tycoon Li Ka-shing, sparks a speculative frenzy, with hundreds queuing to sign up


June Fearing a challenge to their jobs, more than 6,000 teachers protest at plans for benchmark tests for English and Putonghua teachers


June After months of scandal over the defective piling in Sha Tin, a high-profile victim is claimed: Housing Authority chairwoman Rosanna Wong Yick-ming steps down to take responsibility. Soon after, she and director of housing Tony Miller lose a vote of confidence in the Legislative Council


June Critics question his integrity when Tung Chee-hwa reveals a key housing target of 85,000 new flats a year has been dropped - back in 1999, without anyone knowing


July As opinion surveys track the slide in Tung Chee-hwa's popularity and his government's credibility, he is accused of interfering with University of Hong Kong opinion polls. An independent inquiry two months later finds vice-chancellor Cheng Yiu-chung and his deputy tried to stop the polls. Both resign


August Autistic 15-year-old Yu Man-hon, who has the mental age of a two-year-old and no money, slips across the Lo Wu border into the mainland. Despite intensive searches, he was not found


August Right-of-abode protesters are enraged when they lose legal challenges to stay in Hong Kong. They ignite thinner in Wan Chai's Immigration Tower, and one immigration officer and an abode seeker die from their burns. Seven protesters are later jailed for manslaughter


September The Democratic Party slips in the second Legco election, while the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong grows. Its vice-chairman, Gary Cheng Kai-nam, wins a seat but gives it up and quits politics due to controversy over his business activities


01


January Gary Cheng is arrested by the ICAC and later charged with accepting an advantage as a public servant and misconduct in public office


Chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang says she will resign for 'personal reasons' by April - 14 months earlier than expected. Donald Tsang is named to succeed her


July Cathay Pacific sacks 49 pilots in one day, sparking acrimony between staff and the airline. Employees take industrial action to support the '49ers'


August Socialite Pamela Pak Wan-kam begins two months in jail for tax evasion


September A 10-month freeze on Home Ownership Scheme flat sales is revealed on September 3. The next day, premier Zhu Rongji says Hong Kong 'cannot always discuss without making decisions, and make decisions without execution'


December Tung Chee-hwa declares he will seek re-election


Gary Cheng is sentenced to 18 months in prison


02


February Tung Chee-hwa is elected uncontested with 714 nominations from the 800-member Election Committee


March Financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung proposes a 4.75 per cent pay cut for civil servants as part of his plan to eliminate the deficit


April The Executive Council supports a ministerial accountability system to begin in Tung Chee-hwa's second term


May Twenty minutes after taking off from Taiwan, a China Airlines jet crashes on its way to Hong Kong. All 225 on board perish


July Tung Chee-hwa and his new 'accountability' team are sworn in on July 1 at a ceremony led by president Jiang Zemin. Six days later, 50,000 civil servants join an unprecedented rally against pay cuts. But the cut becomes law on July 11, to take effect in October


September A long-awaited national security bill, fronted by security secretary Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, is published for consultation. It sparks rallies from supporters and opponents


October Thousands of grieving fans line the streets to pay their respects when the 'Godfather' of Hong Hong pop music, Roman Tam Pak-sin, 57, dies of liver cancer


03


March A fearsome threat arrives: Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. Though Sars is carried in by a doctor from Guangdong staying at the Metropole Hotel in mid-February, its potential for harm takes weeks to be realised, by which time scores of people are infected in Hong Kong and around the world. Only on March 16 does the World Health Organisation publicly brand Hong Kong a Sars-infected area. Panic is barely concealed, and the city dons face masks, holiday camps become quarantine zones, health workers are wrapped in biological protection suits and whole housing blocks are sealed off, most famously at Amoy Gardens, Kowloon, where hundreds are placed under quarantine. By the end of the 100 days that Sars holds a grip on Hong Kong, 1,755 people have been infected and 299 have died. The dead include four doctors, one nurse, one ward attendant and two health-care assistants who contract the disease while on the frontline at work


May In the aftermath of Sars, the government launches a major cleanup campaign - the biggest since Clean Hong Kong in the early 1970s. People caught littering, spitting, posting bills or letting their dogs foul in public will be heavily fined. Meanwhile, plans are drawn up to prepare for any return of the virus, including an alarm system at hospitals and a new Centre for Health Protection


April Canto-pop star Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing writes a suicide note and leaps to his death from the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental hotel, Central


June A free-trade deal, the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (Cepa), is signed with Beijing


July Half a million people turn out on July 1 to march from Victoria Park to the Central Government Office to protest against a list of grievances, primarily the handling of national security legislation. The government scraps the bill a week later and, on July 16, announces Regina Ip's resignation. Two hours later, the government announces that financial secretary Antony Leung will quit, too; he was plagued by controversy after buying a luxury Lexus car just before raising the tax on car registration


A double-decker bus plunges 50 metres off a Tuen Mun Road flyover, killing 21 commuters


Mainland travellers are allowed to visit Hong Kong on individual tourist visas. Previously, they could only travel in tour groups


October The HK$100 million Harbour Fest concerts are overshadowed by controversies, bad publicity and poor ticket sales. A government inquiry into the handling of the event is announced in November


Rockit, Hong Kong's first annual weekend-long outdoor rock festival, is launched


December Canto-pop queen Anita Mui Yim-fong dies of cervical cancer, raising awareness of the disease in the city. She gave her farewell concert just a month earlier


04


January The Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement - Cepa - comes into effect


April The NPC Standing Committee rules out direct elections for chief executive in 2007 and all legislators in 2008


Li Pak-sum, 44, runs amok in his Tin Shui Wai home, stabbing to death his wife, Kim Shuk-ying, and her two daughters, aged five and six. Fearing violence hours earlier, Kim seeks help from police, but in vain. The case prompts changes to how police deal with domestic abuse


June The elusive crocodile that has been lurking in Yuen Long's San Pui River is finally caught, after seven months of attempts that make headlines worldwide. Nicknamed Pui Pui, the croc gets a permanent home in the newly opened Wetlands Park in 2006


July Secretary for health, welfare and food Yeoh Eng-kiong and Hospital Authority chairman Leong Che-hung resign following publication of the Sars inquiry report. York Chow Yat-ngok takes over as health secretary in October


September Voter turnout for the Legco election hits a record 55 per cent. Democrats, one of whom is veteran social justice campaigner 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, take 25 out of 60 seats.


December Giving in to a vigorous public outcry, developers drop their plans to demolish the mothballed Hunghom Peninsula housing estate before any of its flats have ever been sold or occupied


A lawsuit by a public-housing tenant, Lo Siu-lan, embarrassingly derails the public listing of The Link Reit, the Housing Authority's shopping malls and car parks spin-off


05


January Tung Chee-hwa delivers his 'mea culpa' policy address on January 12, seen as a response to Beijing's concern at the inadequacies of his government


March Tung Chee-hwa resigns on March 10 and Donald Tsang becomes the acting chief executive


The 'milkshake murder' trial begins: Hong Kong is engrossed in the trial of Nancy Kissel, who is convicted of drugging the drink of her wealthy husband, a Merrill Lynch banker, then bludgeoning him to death, rolling his body in a carpet and hiring movers to remove it from their flat. She gets life in prison


Donald Tsang is 'elected' on June 16 to serve out the remainder of Tung Chee-hwa's term after a potential rival, Democrat Lee Wing-tat, gets too few nominations to run against him. His election campaign is notable for his public appearances - including a game of table-tennis at the Society for the Blind


September Hong Kong Disneyland is officially opened by Vice-President Zeng Qinghong


Hong Kong and Guangdong agree on regional air-quality management to cut pollution, and on a Pearl River Delta air-quality index


October In his first policy address, Donald Tsang sets out plans for major reforms to government and plans for a new HQ at the Tamar site in Admiralty. Legco approves the project six months later


Electoral reform is in the air, and a proposal called the 'district council model' is published


on October 19, but lawmakers veto it on


December 21


December Former chief secretary Anson Chan joins a pro-democracy rally on December 4, stirring up media speculation about her political plans


The World Trade Organisation meetings are plagued by violence. Rioting injures 70 police and protesters on December 18


On Boxing Day, the world watches in horror as the Asian tsunami disaster unfolds. Forty Hongkongers are among the estimated 230,000 dead


06


March After widespread criticism, the government drops its unpopular, single-developer model for the giant West Kowloon Cultural District. A 65-member committee is set to rethink the whole scheme from scratch


The Civic Party is inaugurated, comprising members of the Article 45 Concern Group


Constable Tsang Kwok-hang, 34, is killed and fellow officer Sin Ka-keung is wounded in a shoot-out in a Tsim Sha Tsui underpass. Their assailant is another constable, 36-year-old Tsui Po-ko, who is killed in the fracas. His motive for the attack remains a mystery


Public consultation begins on controversial proposals for a goods and services tax


August Three masked men attack and badly beat Democratic Party vice-chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan with baseball bats in a fast-food restaurant in Central


September Anson Chan puts an end to speculation, saying she won't contest the chief executive election. She sets up a group to study constitutional reform. Its first report is published in March 2007


October Last gasp! Hong Kong passes a law banning smoking in all indoor public places


November Former health director Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun is elected director-general of the World Health Organisation


December Finally, Hong Kong is to see a contested chief executive election: pro-democratic candidates win 134 seats in the Election Committee sub-sector elections - enough to propel Alan Leong Kah-kit of the Civiv Party into the ring against Donald Tsang


The government withdraws its GST proposals after widespread criticism


An era ends as the Star Ferry in Central is relocated to a new pier to make way for land reclamation. Protesters fighting to save the clock tower at the 1950s pier clash with police


07


January Butt out! The smoking ban comes into force on January 1


February Donald Tsang declares he'll seek re-election, promising salaries and profits tax cuts in the next five years


The financial secretary, Henry Tang Ying-yen, delivers an unexpected HK$20 billion package of tax giveaways in his fourth budget


March Surprising no one, Donald Tsang is the runaway winner in the third chief executive election on March 25, defeating Alan Leong by 649 votes to 123


April Asia's richest woman, the flamboyant Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum, dies of cancer, sparking a legal battle over her will. She had fought her father-in-law for years over her husband Teddy Wang Teh-huei's will after his kidnap and disappearance in 1990


A sensational 37-day inquest - sparked by the Tsim Sha Tsui police shootings in 2006 - into the deaths of two policemen and a security guard over a period of five years ends with a jury finding that constable Tsui Po-ko had unlawfully killed all three


Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or