The Shek Kip Mei Myth: Squatters, Fires and Colonial Rule in Hong Kong, 1950-1963
Alan Smart raises serious questions about the standard view that Hong Kong's mass public housing programme was a direct and humane response by the Government to the Shek Kip Mei fire. Rather he argues that the Government's response to that fire was grudging and incremental rather than a sharp and radical turning point, and that the security and stability of Hong Kong weighed as heavily, possibly more so, in the decisions than the predicament of the fire victims. His research shows that a whole sequence of major fires after Shek Kip Mei, and the political costs of the Mainland sending comfort missions to fire victims both before and after were needed to bring about the final commitment to provide mass public housing. In his critical examination of the conventional position, Professor Smart bases his case on a thorough reading of government records and provides a careful investigation into the origins of the public housing policy in Hong Kong.
This volume makes an important contrarian contribution to the postwar history of Hong Kong and is a significant addition to the study of its modern development.
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accommodation argued British building chapter Cheng Uk China Chinese clearance and resettlement colonial cities colonial government Comfort Mission Commissioner for Resettlement Committee Communist concerns considerable construction context Crown land decision demolished Denis Bray Deputy Colonial Secretary despite Diamond Hill discussed emergency European Executive Council Fire Brigade fire lanes fire-lanes Governor Grantham Hang Tung fire HKRS Holmes Hong Kong government huts impact interventions January Kip Mei fire Kong's Kowloon City Kowloon Walled City large number McDouall Memorandum multi-storey Resettlement November numbers of squatters particularly Party on Housing political population problem in Hong public housing rent Resettlement Department Resettlement Estates Resettlement Programme residents response result Shek Kip Mei Social Welfare Officer space squatter areas squatter clearance squatter control squatter fires squatter problem squatter resettlement squatter settlements squatter structures squatting street suggested Tai Hang Tung Tai Po Road tenement tolerated areas Tsun Wan Tung Tau Urban Council villagers Wakefield Report