“Hong Kong Captured: Motor-Car Invasion by American Sailors”, ran a headline in the South China Morning Post on May 27, 1910.
“Hongkong was captured Wednesday by American ‘jack tars,’” the story that marked the Post’s first mention of the motor car continued. “In a big touring car they operated in the vicinity of the Hongkong Hotel and other equally well-known hostelries. The invaders were extremely dignified, and very clean in their white suits, but the ribald cries of the populace as echoes of the horn’s ‘honk, honk,’ somewhat marred the general effect.”
The passing of motoring regulations by the Executive Council was reported on June 11, 1912. “Every car shall, the regulations state, carry a horn capable of giving audible and sufficient warning of the approach or position of the motor car,” the story ran. “Perhaps the clause that will be most welcome to the majority of residents is the one providing that no motor car, which is licensed, or used for livery, shall be ridden anywhere in the colony between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.”
The article continued: “The names of streets and roads are given in Hongkong upon which motor traffic is allowed, and no car is allowed except for the purposes already stated, in any of the streets north of Queen’s Road.”
On June 14, 1912, the Post reported “a clear statement” to the Legislative Council on the new regulations by His Excellency the Officer Administering the Government, the Hon. Mr. Claud Severn: “Early in May I was somewhat concerned at the constant accidents caused by motor vehicles and I obtained a report which showed that there were 21 motor cars in Hongkong, of which seven are privately owned and 14 belong to four garages. No accidents had been caused by the former, while the latter had been responsible for 28 accidents during the 16 months from the 1st. January, 1911, to the 30th. April, 1912, which resulted in four persons being killed and four seriously injured, a very bad record […] I am of the opinion that speaking generally Hongkong, unlike the Straits and Shanghai, is unsuited for motor traffic except to a very limited extent, and I think this view is held by the large majority of those who are in a position to judge.”
The debate was just beginning.