Hong Kong is an East Asian country that became a Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China in 1997. Previously, Hong Kong was under British administration. Hong Kong has a presidential limited democratic government whose head is the chief executive since 1997- a position previously held by governors. Hong Kong’s Chief Executive is the head of government and the chief representative of the people in local and international forums. The Basic Law lists the duties and responsibilities, and they include: appointing judges and public officers, giving honors, endorsing laws and budgets passed by the Legislative Council, implementing legislation and advising on the appointment or dismissal of principal officials by the People’s Republic of China. Though the Basic Law gives the Chief Executive power, they are expected to consult the Executive and other government branches. During the period after WWII when Hong Kong was under the UK, the governor of Hong Kong (always British) served as the representative of the Monarch of UK. The position was replaced by the Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 1997. Hong Kong has had 17 governors since WWII. The Governor served as the head of the Executive Council and commanded the British Forces Overseas Hong Kong whose duties and responsibilities were stipulated in the Royal Instructions and Hong Kong Letters Patent.
Hong Kong's Governors And Chief Executives Since World War II (WW2)
Governor Franklin Charles Gimson (Aug 28, 1945- Aug 30, 1945)
Gimson was the first governor of Hong Kong for a brief period of three days. He was educated in the UK and began his service in Ceylon as a cadet in 1914. The same day he assumed his duties, Japan declared war on Hong Kong, and he was captured and detained from March 1942 until August 1945, when the Japanese surrendered. Gimson promptly re-established the British Dominion over Hong Kong to obstruct any annexation of Hong Kong by the Chinese. He appointed himself the governor and he formed a provisional government as he waits for the allied forces to take up Hong Kong again. He stepped down on August 30th, 1945 and left for the UK after handing over the administration of Hong Kong to Brigadier MacDougall.
Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa (1997-2005)
Chee-hwa was the first Chief Executive who served for two terms although the second term ended prematurely due to the displeasure of the people with his administration. He was elected into office by members of the committees of Electoral College. The Asian financial crisis made it hard for him to fulfill his pledge to improve education, housing, and affairs of the elderly, leading to public pressure that saw him resign from office in 2005.
Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-Kuen (2005-2012)
Tsang was Hong Kong’s second Chief Executive who had been in the civil service since 1967. His popularity among the people saw him replace Tung Chee-hwa. However, like his predecessor, he was criticized for mishandling government affairs and was involved in several controversies including the demolition of the Queen’s Pier. Tsang achieved several goals during his two terms including developing infrastructure and reforming education by extending the free education period to 12 years.
Chief Executive Leung Chun-Ying (2012-to date)
Chun-Ying is the current Chief Executive who took office in 2012 after years of being in politics. He faced various criticisms of being a member of the Communist party in China as well as having illegal buildings in his residence. Illegal dealings such as the contract with an Australian engineer in 2011 have played a key role in his declining popularity among the citizens of Hong Kong.
Governors of Hong Kong
The first governor of Hong Kong after WWII was Franklin Charles Gimson (1945) and the last was Chris Patten (1992-1997). Other notable governors include Cecil Harcourt, Martin Aitchison Young, David Mercer MacDougall, Alexander Grantham, Edgeworth Beresford David, Robert Brown Black, Edmund Brinsley Teesdale, David C.C. Trench, Hugh Norman-Walker, Murray MacLehose, Jack Cater, Phillip Haddon-Cave, Edward Youde, David Akers-Jones and David Wilson.