• Thu
  • Oct 23, 2014
  • Updated: 6:01am
NewsHong Kong

Last governor Chris Patten speaks of 'regrets' over Hong Kong democracy

City's last governor says Britain should have gone further on democracy

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 12 November, 2013, 4:53am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 12 November, 2013, 12:55pm

Hong Kong's last colonial governor sparked fresh debate in the city yesterday when he revealed that the "biggest regret" of his tenure was that Britain didn't go further to implement parts of the Sino-British Joint Declaration, particularly on elections.

Chris Patten also told The Wall Street Journal that anyone who tried to block more political rights for Hongkongers was "spitting in the wind".

But his remarks were dismissed as "meaningless" by Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, who said many changes he implemented between 1992 and 1997 were rolled back after the handover.

Signed in 1984, the declaration guaranteed Hong Kong's social and economic systems for 50 years. It said the chief executive would be appointed by Beijing based on "elections or consultations" and that Hong Kong's legislature would be elected.

Patten's attempts to increase democracy by allowing more Hongkongers to vote for lawmakers in functional constituencies saw him dubbed a "sinner of the ages" by Beijing's Hong Kong affairs chief, Lu Ping.

Patten told the Journal London spent too much time negotiating on "areas that the Chinese leadership was never going to agree to, rather than simply taking action on those points".

He added: "The only thing [Hong Kong] doesn't have is the right to elect its own government, and sooner or later it will have … anybody who tries to resist that is, I think, spitting in the wind."

DAB lawmaker Ip Kwok-him was unimpressed.

"I also regret that Patten went against the [terms] of the joint declaration and … made those [electoral] changes," he said. "I don't think anyone, including the central government, is resisting democratic development."

Patten also said it would be a "concern" and bad for the city and country if Hong Kong's independence was eroded by mainland organisations.


For unlimited access to:

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



This article is now closed to comments

HK went from being a fishing village to what it was in 1997 during the course of British rule. Now, that's merely correlation, and there's no proof that HK progressed BECAUSE of British rule. I suppose, for the deeply indoctrinated, one could try to suggest that HK progressed IN SPITE of British rule. However, one only needs to look at where HK was in 1997 and compare that to where China was in 1997 (not to mention similar temporal comparisons in the 1960s during the height of Mao's craziness) to see that, on balance, HK did pretty well.
It's certainly true that the Brits didn't find their voice in supporting a democratic evolution for HK until after they were no longer in charge. And some might find it curious as to why they're saying these things now. But it seems all too often that people are caught up with who is saying it, and losing sight of what they've actually said. What's wrong with more democratic rights for HKers? If it's truly going to be 2 systems, what's wrong with developing HK's system in accordance with HK people's wishes? (Now of course, I think the 2 systems thing is a bit of a crock, but we shall see what Beijing does moving forward.)
There is nothing wrong about HK receive more democratic rights and developing more democratic reforms. But step by step and not hastily as every country is doomed to fail if political reforms are not slowly and carefully implemented.
It is not wrong to call for democratic reforms but it has a foul aftertaste if you hear it from the Brits (and their servants), who for themselves had done nothing or not enough in regards to this call during their time of rule of HK. Even Patten as, yes he did introduce something like a parliament during his time as governeur, but this was nothing else than a comedy and farce as if you do something like this in the eve of the Handover, it is a big joke on the Central Government of China.
Why are the british clamouring for democracy in HK after 150 years of colonial dictatorship? Why was democracy not given to HK when they were running it?
Why do HK chinese still clinging on to be british inside? The british ruled the world at one time with aggression and brutality.....they were the forerunners of racism and bigotry. democracy was only given to themselves in the motherland.
Now that the British are weak and poor (and declining each day), why is everyone is asia not seizing the opportunity to discard the mental yoke? Are the Brits really more capable than us today? In which respect? Language, culture, commerce, entrepreneurship? Even if they are better than us in some areas, eg Rugby!, does it make them natural leaders of us?
This is OUR time. The only thing we should learn from their legacy is how to colonise other countries.
Chris Patten cant even win a seat in his bloody BATH constituency. And we let him rule HK,,,,what the hell was everyone thinking??
Even if Joint D were accorded full treaty status
note how after she had made treaty referral
Thatcher kissed the steps of People’s Great Hall
Joint D was just China’s gentlemanly way to give britain face
What China gave, China can easily take away, if britain misbehaves
BL’s preamble can’t be clearer,
HK and 1C2S are entirely national affairs
As Danny G noted, “there are no legal limits
on the Standing Committee’s power
to interpret the Hong Kong Basic Law”
It is foolish to pretend otherwise
Catcher is right
“The British did not and do not have any say”
"china can easily take away, if Britain misbehaves" is an imaginative viewpoint.
As you can see China is more CAPITALIST probably it ranks #1 now, only the cover looks socialist (just for decor) After the recent meeting i feel China gonna be more western. :D So thanks to Brits and Thatcher that HK is already enjoying it and not bad China is following us :). Good to see CCP is bowing to ppl. power...
The British did not and do not have any say in Hong Kong's future, no matter how much these phonies pretend to have had any influence on Beijing's decision-making process. This is how it was intended. The fact that the 1997 event was called a "handover" should provide some clues. It is pathetic for Britain and Patten to act like crybabies and hang on to Hong Kong like leeches, is the city of London really that broke?
Read about the Sino-British Joint Declaration, and then reconsider your baseless contention that the British had no say. Start with "Introduction to the Basic Law" by Danny Gittings HKU Press. It would probably serve you well in the future to avoid publicly demonstrating your ignorance.
Interesting you bring up this rabid hate-China imbecile. Tell me, how many libraries stock a copy of Gittings' "book?" How many copies did HKU Press sell? How much money did HKU Press lose in publishing this piece of "garbage?"
Of course I have good reasons to be close-minded. If you had read Gittings' diatribes in SCMP all these years, the only reason you read this is to confirm your bias and fulfill a China bashing passion.
You are wrong in every regard.
You don't process information very well. Try reading my comment again.
Good leaders like Sir MM an extract below from Wiki
MacLehose became Governor of Hong Kong in November 1971, holding this position until May 1982.
A diplomat with a British Labour Party background,[3] MacLehose introduced a wide range of reforms during his time in office that laid the foundation of modern Hong Kong as a cohesive, self-aware society. He had Chinese recognised as an official language for communication, alongside English. He greatly expanded welfare and set up a massive public housing programme. He rooted out corruption, with the creation of the ICAC. By establishing the District Boards, he greatly improved government accountability.[4] He oversaw the construction of the Mass Transit Railway, Hong Kong's transportation backbone, and other major infrastructure projects. On his watch, community and arts facilities were expanded, and public campaigns, such as against litter and violent crime, were introduced.
These changes required increased funding from the UK Government Treasury, and it was against some opposition that, in his first two years in office, Hong Kong government expenditure grew by over 50%.[
Caractacus before Sir Murray MacLehose came to HK ... corruption was rife ... both the mess and clean up were under the British administration ... Indonesia and Philippines are democracies and corruption is rife.
HK just needs good Leaders/Government
The denial of representative government is the cause of HK's dysfunctional governance since 1997. It isn't because of Patten or because of "foreign interference". It is simply because HK is an autocracy answerable to an arbitrary dictatorship, whereas before 1997 it was an autocracy answerable to a democratically elected constitutional government. There's a world of difference in the PRACTICE of government.
This has led to corruption creeping in at the top levels of administration to unprecedented degrees.
As for DAB shoeshiner Ip Kwok-him: "I don't think anyone, including the central government, is resisting democratic development." the DAB have been instrumental in denying HK getting that very thing.
"Democratic development" to Beijing means something exactly the opposite, just as C. Y. Leung says his administration is transparent and accountable.
Patten , more than any other single individual, is responsible for the mess that Hong Kong now finds itself in.................... an ungovernable city known world-wide for its street circuses ('demonstrations') every weekend.
He never understood two simple words uttered by Deng Xiaoping (邓小平) as a promise: "No Change" (for 50 years.) Patten spent his five years here attempting to do the very exact opposite and raising unachievable ( and really dumb) local expectations .
He even wasted billions by putting the new airport in the wrong place.
AND: The site of the new airport was decided long before he became Governor.
Now he is talking. Well, Mr. Patten. You say that anybody who tries to resist democracy is spitting in the wind. YOU had done this for over 150 years - the spitting - and put HK to a political state in what HK is now. Thank you very much as your "regrets" mean nothing to me.
Now you are talking. How about just shut up and stop trying to get sympathy from the HK people in return for your pretented "regrets".
HK is a world city because it was administered by the British.During its rule the locals enjoyed total freedom and lived quite happily and one did not notice anti-govt slogans or protests.
Today it is administered by its own people and look at the mess, good luck to the HKers!!
A man of "regrets" is a man of hypocrisies
I dont know whether Patten had ulterior motives but he did impress me during his stint here as someone who studied the Basic Law well. He was really a diplomat despite the title of the book he wrote and people like CY should learn a few things from him. Tam and Ip are free to say what they like but really they need to shake off their tags as being puppets who echo whatever Beijing says. Even R-ita FAN shows her worth on occasions and takes jibes at the central government at times. Jasper is even better and Beijing needs to understand that HK needs people who can eloquently express themselves instead of bumbling on each and every important issue.
SHUT UP PATTEN! You only became Governor of HK because you lost your seat in the UK and Thatcher shunted you out here! How can an English politician discuss HK political freedom when you and your predecessors ensured HK never had any such democratic freedoms; why was there never any argument to elect our Governors, they were just wheeled in ceremoniously to rule over us with their plumed hats and club memberships! Hong Kong is far better off without London and when we resume our place in the Motherland, Hong Kong will be part of the greatest economy on Earth.
Chauvinist fool.
Most HK people say they are worse off now for being ruled by a gang of corrupt cronies.
"I don't think anyone, including the central government, is resisting democratic development." How can these people keep a straight face as they lie so blatantly?
If the handover was not planned, Patten should also attempted to increase democracy in Hong Kong ? . What is the difference between the British time and now ? Remarks from both DAB lawmakers show that there are not big differences between the two rulers regarding democracy for Hong Kong.
Thatcher sold us away in her drive to cosy up to China. Great for the UK, disaster for HK.
Oh boy, cue the usual knee-jerk "interference in internal affairs" quotes from the talking heads.
I see exhibit A has already arrived. It's like Pavlov ringing his bell...
Time has proved CP a democrazy version of A Greenspan
a fake dreamer playing the last act of FILTH par excellence
who can't have a clear and straight argument for his opinions
writing always in riddles to conceal his ulterior motives
He isn't aware of the world's changed perception
the bloody poppy is now recognized as a symbol of fascism
which he proudly wears in his lapel to exhibit his true color
Read "Ever the Diplomat" by Cowper-Coles, CP's superior
to see how the bloody fascist lied to promote democrazy



SCMP.com Account