Letter: Honourable end in Hong Kong

Click to follow
Sir: In reporting the end of British rule in Hong Kong there has been little mention that the event has finally brought about the end of a proud Crown Service, the origins of which can be traced back to 1837 before the first British presence there.

It was Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service, formerly the Colonial Service, that has been responsible for the administration, development and bringing to independence or sovereignty of all British colonial territories in every continent. None of the remaining British dependencies have posts filled by officers from that Service, though some 280 members have chosen to stay on under different terms to serve the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of China.

The following words written by Sir Winston Churchill in 1956 are an apt summary of the achievements of British colonial rule in this century:

There has been no lack of critics, at home and abroad, to belittle Britain's colonial achievement and to impugn her motives. But the record confounds them. Look where you will, you will find that the British have ended wars, put a stop to savage customs, opened churches, schools and hospitals, built railways, roads and harbours, and developed the natural resources of the countries so as to mitigate the almost universal, desperate poverty. They have given freely in money and materials and in the services of a devoted band of Civil Servants; yet no tax is imposed upon any of the colonial peoples that is not spent by their own governments on projects for their own good.

The ending last Monday of HMOCS is to be commemorated in two years' time (May 1999), together with related anniversaries, by formal functions in Westminster Abbey and elsewhere. We hope that the British people will acknowledge and appreciate this culmination of an honourable job well and truly done.


Chairman, Overseas Service Pensioners' Association

Tonbridge, Kent