Sunday, August 1, 2010

Hong Kong Police Force Remembered

Found this series of reminiscences that I thought readers might find of interest. Weeks 1 and 2, I found quite worth a gander, 3 and 4 less so. But peruse at your leisure, if you like.

My mission in this column, which will appear each day in The Standard, is to take us back to those days to relive some of the events I experienced so you might have some idea about policing in Hong Kong over the years.
JS Lam served with `Asia's Finest' for 32 years, reaching the rank of senior superintendent before retiring in 1996.

Week 1
Let's look at what communications - from a policing standpoint - were like before the 1980s.
HKStandard: Lone officer battered on The Peak 7/6
Until the 1970s every policeman on beat patrol - and we patrolled singly - had no means on his person to communicate with his colleagues. The best he could do was borrow telephones in shops or places of business, and then only during opening hours.
HKStandard: Spooked by ghostly cellmates 7/7 [Haunted Cop Shops!]
Back in the 1960s, just about every police station on Hong Kong Island - in fact I think throughout the territory - had its resident ghost.
HKStandard: Bloody terror on `The Gap' night patrol 7/8
He was no more than two paces away when the shape turned slowly to its left. It appeared to be female with long hair hanging down and with blood gushing from its eyes, nose, ears and mouth. It was grinning grotesquely and its tongue stuck out, dripping blood.
In those days, we wore khaki which had to be starched. Don't think many of you readers would know what it felt like to wear a starched khaki shirt in the summer heat. Believe me, it was not pleasant.
In a tour of duty, an honest beat police constable would cover quite a few kilometers, say 1.5km every hour for six hours making it 9km, all this while carrying about two kilograms of equipment - to wit, his revolver, baton, etc. Don't forget, in those days, a typical PC weighed about 55kg, soaking wet!

Week 2
HKStandard: Remembering the beat generation 7/12
The beat policeman wore khaki shirt and shorts (summer) with boots and gaiters, then in the 1970s changed to bush jacket worn over shorts which later became trousers. The winter uniform was, of course, blue. Was the uniform comfortable? No. The khaki needed to be starched and in the humidity and heat it was sticky and smelly.

HKStandard: Disturbing times for riot patrols 7/13
During the time of the "internal unrest," as we referred to riots or major prolonged disturbances, the Police Force formed itself into an emergency structure built around the Police Tactical Unit (The Blue Berets), whose job was to deal with large unruly crowds, quell riots and reopen blocked roads.
HKStandard: When riots broke out in Kowloon 7/14
...four incidents broke out in 1966 (the Star Ferry riots), 1967 (the "industrial" or workers' riots), the 1970s (Christmas riots) and the 1980s (taxi riots).
HKStandard: Stoned by a mob in Yau Ma Tei 7/15
In the midst of being pelted with stones and threatened with being overwhelmed by the advancing mob on Nathan Road during the 1966 riots, I ordered my fellow officers in the No 2 section responsible for firing tear gas to be ready.
HKStandard: Charging down a sea of rioters 7/16
My company handled the mobs quite well during the 1966 riots when one bears in mind the fact that my men and I had only undergone three days of training after being formed.

Week 3
Week 4 was posted and updated at the bottom of Friday's news post.

No comments: