While studying to become a legal executive at HKU SPACE, Ng learnt about the Hong Kong legal system and how it was modelled on the British one. Even the city’s constitution, the Basic Law, is drafted with the principle of common law in mind and is fundamentally different from the mainland’s legal system.
So strong is Ng’s identification with Britain that he would rather put in Hong Kong or GBR (the ISO country code for the United Kingdom of Great Britain) when he is asked to state his nationality in application forms.
Ng does not deny that he is clearly in the minority among his age group. He considers himself lucky that his friends do not see him as a freak because of his relatively unusual interest.
He insists that being nostalgic about the colonial days does not mean that he is living in the past. While acknowledging colonialism is aggressive by nature and had caused harm to the territory, Ng says: “The local Hong Kong culture was born [during the colonial period] which is neither from China nor Britain. That’s why I don’t want people to forget what the British have done to Hong Kong, both the good and the bad.”
Perhaps reminiscing about the city’s colonial past is just a pretext for these young people to reinforce their identity as Hongkongers.
Quite a number of Hong Kongers feel uneasy about the fact that Hong Kong became part of China in 1997 because of the huge differences across the border.
Another 19-year-old, Ivan Chik Yu-hin, says: “I can’t help but feel that we are not In the same boat, and hence we need to have a separate identity.”
Chik, who is currently studying law at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, says he was too young to remember what the colonial days were like but he concludes that: “British Hong Kong was definitely better than today’s Hong Kong.”
He justifies his position with his own analysis and interpretation of information he has obtained from the media and statistics and surveys about the differences between pre- and post-1997 Hong Kong. His conclusion is that there was much better communication between the top officials and the public, and people were more satisfied with the government than they are now.
“I think it would be wrong to say I prefer British Hong Kong, because after all it was colonial rule. But I don’t prefer today’s Hong Kong either. . .I put my hope in the future Hong Kong when what’s been promised in the Basic Law turns to reality,” he says.