Was Governor MacLehose a great architect of modern Hong Kong?

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Murray MacLehose, the 25th Governor of Hong Kong, was the longest-serving Governor in the history of Hong Kong. MacLehose proposed and implemented a series of policies that brought significant reforms to Hong Kong. These reforms included housing, transportation, anti-corruption, welfare, and education. The reforms did not only improve people's living standards, but also created for Hong Kong people a sense of belonging to the colony. While the mainstream of Hong Kong society claimed MacLehose was a respected governor, was MacLehose's ten-year-governorship in actual fact praiseworthy? This article will revisit MacLehose's governorship and show that MacLehose was not as perfect as the locals think – he was even reluctant to implement some reforms, particularly political reforms, anti-corruption and social security. However, this was because he was trying to balance local and British interests within the colony. He indeed worked hard to perform his duty and defended well Hong Kong's interests during his governorship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-509
JournalAsian Affairs
Issue number3
Early online date3 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 30 Sep 2020


  • Britain
  • Hong Kong
  • MacLehose
  • Governor
  • governance
  • corruption
  • reform
  • democracy
  • fiscal policy
  • social policy
  • refugees

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