19 JULY 1957, Page 30


SIR,—I find it hard to answer at the same time the strictures on my article Hong Kong, the chance we missed that have been made respectively by Mr. Travers and Professor Forster, whose own views on, for instance, the efficacy of the British Peace seem diametrically opposed.

In saying Hong Kong easily absorbed a million refugees I did not mean to imply that they were housed as befits an enlightened Government. 1 thought the whole sense of my article was to drive that home. I think I visited all the settlements and shanty towns both on the island and at Kowloon and I was depressed at the harsh barrack-like grim- ness of Government housing as contrasted with the private efforts of, for instance, the Oratorians.

On the distinction between little crime and fairly frequent stabbings it is senseless to enlarge. Judged by the standards of other South-East Asia capitals— Jakarta, Bangkok, even Manilla—I still feel there is little crime, although a man was stabbed not one hundred yards off, while I was in the Gloucester lounge. 1 never talked of 'unarmed police' generally, but of the unarmed sentries at Lo Wu.

At what date between late autumn and early spring the Communist frontier guards discarded steel helmets and jackboots for caps and shoes I cannot say. Maybe they changed the unit, or possibly some- one was purged. Have they also replaced their Sten guns with swagger sticks?

Mr. Forster considers the late Dr. Sun Yat-Sen. who, bless him, died in 1925, more authoritative and better informed than 1 on the Hong Kong I saw in late 1956. But then the doctor, rest his soul, was writing of Hong Kong in 1892! 'The orderly calm was not too obvious when the Green Howards fired on the population last October. One respects the zeal of a professor emeritus for a star pupil of his university who may have been one of those ex- students consulted by him in Formosa—of course, by spiritualistic media—but Hong Kong and China generally really have altered to no small extent since 1892, even since 1925.—Yours faithfully,