The Shek Kip Mei Myth: Squatters, Fires and Colonial Rule in Hong Kong, 1950-1963

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Hong Kong University Press, Jun 1, 2006 - History - 240 pages
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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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Contents

Introduction
1
Colonial Cities Illegal Spaces
21
Hong Kong in 1950
39
Kowloon Walled City
59
Tung Tau
73
Shek Kip Mei
95
Tsuen Wan
117
Tai Hang Tung
129
Lei Cheng Uk
143
Squatter Control after 1954
159
Conclusion
181
Notes
193
References
217
Index
225
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About the author (2006)

Alan Smart is a Professor in the Department of Anthropology, University of Calgary, Canada. His previous book on Hong Kong's housing was Making Room: Squatter Clearance in Hong Kong (Hong Kong: Centre of Asian Studies, 1992).

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