Todd Crowell is a journalist who has worked in Hong Kong for Asiaweek. He wrote Farewell My Colony to chronicle the experiences of the last years leading up to the handover.
It is an eye-opening book, chronicling the hopes and fears of both the pro-democracy and pro-Beijing camps as well as the UK and People’s Republic of China.
The book takes you through interviews with locals, legislators in both camps whom Crowell had lunch with, and gives a comprehensive telling of Chris Patten’s democratic reforms and the impact and reactions, as well as CH Tung’s successful election campaign to become the city’s Chief Executive and his work leading up to the handover.
A key segment on the book focuses on China’s plans to dissolve the Legislative Council elected in 1995 and the Democratic Party working out if it’s in their interests and Hong Kong’s interest for them to get involved. The pro-democrats plan in the last couple of hours before the handover is discussed too, and Democratic leader’s Martin Lee’s remarks on what he told whip the now late Szeto Wah is quite humourous.
The book takes you a lot of places. Much has been said about the impact of handover and the changes Hong Kong has undertaken. This book shows you the not insignificant changes in the last months of colonial Hong Kong. It also shows you what was happening across the border in the mainland at the same time, as what was perceived to be a historical injustice was about to be corrected. A brilliant book, which opens eyes to a significant chapter in Hong Kong’s history.
Rating — 5/5 stars
Next book to review: The Double by Fyodor Dostoevsky