It will be 40 years ago tomorrow since sacked workers were arrested at the Hong Kong Artificial Flower Works in San Po Kong, fuelling a surge of leftist anti-British outrage and bloodshed. By the time calm was restored in December, the disturbances had claimed 51 lives, including 15 people who died in bomb attacks by extremists. Many of the young people involved are now senior members of the community in their late 50s and early 60s, some in positions far removed from the youthful passions unleashed as the Cultural Revolution roiled across the mainland. As people reflect on the events, and the rights and wrongs of such a dark period in Hong Kong's history, one fact stands out starkly - the city changed as a result of what transpired during that long hot summer of 1967. The aloof colonial rulers and business class realised they had to react to the growing demands of the local community. The policies that would see considerable progress in public housing, an eventual colonial success story, as well as labour law reform and the creation of a social security umbrella were borne in the aftermath of the general strikes and violence. The pressures and violence of the time led to excesses and extreme behaviour. Some leftist factions resorted to violence that would be considered as extreme as some of today's terrorist actions, killing one radio host by drenching him in petrol and setting him ablaze. The British administration used hard-boiled security and sedition laws to the full, shutting newspapers and detaining people without trial. Fear was sown by all sides as a propaganda war ensued, the truth clouded by exaggeration and habitual colonial secrecy. As our three part series has made clear this week, elements of the leftist camp still hold a 'siege mentality' given the split from mainstream society that resulted. As painful and awkward as it may be for some to reopen the wounds of 1967, it is a far too important a landmark to be ignored by history. Pressure is rightly building to re-examine the events with the benefit of 40 years of hindsight. Some of those involved have demanded a formal public inquiry. This is probably not appropriate after such a long period, and sadly carries the risk of degenerating into a political football and an exercise in revisionism. What would be far more valuable in the long-term would be to ensure the fullest possible historical assessments can be made, drawing on as wide a range of sources as possible. Let the scholars and researchers ply their skills in the interests of not just debate, but history and truth. To ensure academic accuracy, far greater access to government records is needed, both in Hong Kong and London, where scholars have found that many crucial documents reside. The central government's records of its own considerable involvement are not expected to be released any time soon. As we report today, academics are still struggling to get complete Executive Council records from the local Public Records Office, despite the expiry of the 30-year limit on documents previously considered classified. Minutes are often returned with extensive deletions. Some files deemed 'sensitive' are not released at all. In the interests of the historical record, perhaps the records office should consider working more intensely with its London counterparts to create a special 1967 documents archive. Forty years should be long enough for the most delicate of bureaucratic sensitivities to have faded.