The police have deleted and modified part of the “police history” of the 1967 riots on their website.

The 1967 riots during May to December were started by leftists in Hong Kong following a labour dispute in a San Po Kong factory, after the Cultural Revolution in China started. During the year 8,074 suspected bombs were planted, of which 1,167 were real bombs; At least 51 people died during the riots, including ten police officers, and 802 were injured.

Commercial Radio host Lam Bun was burned to death in his car, and a pair of siblings aged 2 and 7 were killed by bombs during the riots.

Police rewrite history of 1967 riots
Police rewrite history of 1967 riots. Photo: HKFP.

Yeung Kwong, the then leader of the riot, was awarded a Grand Bauhinia Medal, the highest honour in Hong Kong, for his “outstanding contribution to the labour movement and labour welfare in Hong Kong” in 2001. He died in May 2015.

Compared to a version captured on 21 June 2014, the highlighted parts were removed:

“This brief flurry was but a rehearsal for the following spring. In China, the political turmoil spread and eventually lashed Hong Kong. Inflamed by rhetoric, fuelled by misplaced ideas of nationalism, huge mobs marched on Government House, waving aloft the Little Red Book and shouting slogans. Ranks of police faced crowds hurling insults, spitting, sometimes throwing acid. Never have strict discipline and stringent training paid such dividends. Staunchly, the thin khaki line held firm. Those early days in May 1967 were the start of a torrid, worrying summer. The mass protests tapered off, to be replaced by a campaign of terror and bombing. Bus and tram drivers were threatened, sometimes attacked if they went to work to keep Hong Kong on the move. Bombs were made in classrooms of left-wing schools and planted indiscriminately on the streets. Struggle committees were formed to foment strife against the government, although it was swiftly apparent none of the leaders to go to China to participate in the nationwide strife that was taking such an appalling toll, and the wealthy businessmen who had blessed the troubles, the “red fat cats” dispatched their children to universities in the much-disparaged United States and Britain.

In another paragraph, “communist militia” was changed to “gunmen”, “Chinese side of the border” was changed to “border area in Sha Tau Kok”, “cut down” was changed to “shot dead”.

But was worse to come. In the most serious single incident of that year of violence, communist militia (changed to gunmen) opened fire from the Chinese side of the border (changed to border area in Sha Tau Kok). Five policemen were cut down (changed to shot dead) in the hail of bullets, nine others were injured. They were among a death toll which included bomb disposal officers killed trying to defuse booby-traps in city streets. The entire population was revolted by the bombings, particularly when a seven-year-old girl and her brother, aged two, playing outside their North Point home were killed.

Update (10:25pm): In an email response to HKFP, a police spokesperson said:

“The contents of the police history page mainly describes the changes to the police force over the past 170 years… The changes made to the police history page are mainly to make its contents more concise and to correct sentences – other factors are not involved.”

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.