26 SEPTEMBER 1998, Page 31


Hong Kong hostility Sir: You give prominence to a review by Henry Keswick of Chris Patten's East and West (Books, 19 September). You note that Mr Keswick has extensive interests in Hong Kong, but you deprive your readers of the information that he has long been one of Mr Patten's bitterest foes. In their inno- cence, they might therefore conclude that his jejune but vituperative commentary on Mr Patten's governorship was informed by more than the malice of a thwarted suppli- cant.

Though Chris Patten refrains from rais- ing the issue, I detail the episode in my book, The Last Governor. Not to put too fine a point on it, Mr Keswick behaved like a spoilt child when, in 1993, Mr Patten refused to exercise his gubernatorial authority to override a decision by the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Com- mission to refuse Jardine Matheson's appli- cation to be liberated from the constraints of the Hong Kong takeover code. As chairman of Jardine Matheson, Henry Keswick, who had been an early supporter of Britain's tough stance towards China, now took to denouncing the governor as `that bloody little socialist'. Not surprisingly perhaps, Hong Kong's last governor thenceforth found it difficult to regard Mr Keswick as seriously as your reviewer of East and West might have wished. It is more surprising that you made no attempt to place his review in that context.

Jonathan Dimbleby 1 Horbury Crescent, London Wli