Chris Emmett served with the Hong Kong police until his retirement as a senior superintendent in 1998. He witnessed the city's transformation from a British colony to a special administrative region within the People's Republic of China. In this book, he shares his experiences as a police officer across a range of departments in the Royal Hong Kong police force from the time he arrived in Hong Kong during the 1970s.
In the autumn of 1970, at the age of twenty-two, Chris was a police officer in a little Merseyside town called Warrington. One weekend, he saw an advertisement for a British police officer recruitment to be based in Hong Kong. On Friday, November 13, 1970, he joined the other twelve men at Heathrow Airport to look for a change in Hong Kong.
Chris has served in the various locations in the 1970s, including the then-new town of Tsuenwan, his first experience as an inspector. He recounted some of his adventurous operations, such as the dramatic rescue of a deadly Typhoon Rose, which killed 130 people in 1971 and the discovery of a World War II bomb. Chris was in dilemma when he was offered a bribe for the first time in his job. He was considering to resign but was told by the Divisional Detective Inspector that a new bribery law will be coming within a year.
I can't stop myself from visualising the Hong Kong sceneries during the 70s based on my experience of watching uncountable Hong Kong movies and TV series. Every scene is meticulously recounted, and the vivid description of the sceneries are beautifully written. My first favourite part of this book is the story of the 1967 Hong Kong riots, which was led by red guard activists. The force had stood firm and received widespread praise from the public. In recognition of the force's courage and commitment, Her Majesty the Queen granted them the privilege of the "Royal" title. It became 'The Royal Hong Kong Police' until the end of British rule in 1997.
The story is full of wittiness and the author's honest opinions about his early impressions of Hong Kong people. Alongside his experience from the police training school, he also shares the cultural differences between British and Chinese in Hong Kong. From learning how to use chopsticks to ordering beer in Cantonese, the story expands beyond the police school's disciplined life. I have to give credit to the author for his brilliance in writing the Cantonese pronunciations into words. The accuracy of the Cantonese pronunciation and the English translation are superbly close. I enjoyed the story about the Cantonese class. The class won't get bored with Ridge's and Staynes's humour with the Cantonese, but I felt terrible for the teacher.
I felt Chris has excellent storytelling skill, and there is always a positive side in every tense moment. For example, the experience of facing the Chinese military in the town of Sha Tau Kok has been told in a lighthearted manner. The feud between the two villages is hilarious and exciting as well.
In 1994, the government stopped recruiting expatriate police officers. As existing overseas officers retire, the force will become entirely Chinese, except for a few locally-born non-Chinese officers.
ISBN: 9789881616203 (ebook)
Number of Pages: 262
Rating: ★★★★ (4/5)
More reviews can be found on Goodreads: Hong Kong Policeman by Chris Emmett.