Official language policy in Hong Kong : with particular reference to the Legislative Council

by Chung, Lung-shan

Abstract (Summary)
(Uncorrected OCR) Abstract of dissertation entitled

Official Language Policy in Hong Kong,

with particular reference to the Legislative Council

submitted by

Chung Lung Shan, Peter

for the degree of Master of Arts at The University of Hong Kong in July 2003

This study aims at analysing Hong Kong's official language policy, which pivots on the Official Languages Ordinance in 1974 and the subsequent amendments in 1986, in the administration, legislation, judiciary and education domains. Special reference is made to the Legislative Council and its secretariat. Specific issues to be addressed in this study include:

(a) The official language policy of the Hong Kong Government at different times;

(b) The social and political background against which the official language policy was formulated; ( c) The implementation details of the policy in various domains;

(d) Relevance of the development in the past with the present and the future; and

(e) Roles of the Legislative Council in the formulation and implementation of the official language policy in Hong Kong and the effects of the policy on the membership of the Council and the practices of its secretariat.

Through detailed examination and analysis of the relevant government papers and documents, as well as the data and tables compiled from various sources, the present study suggests that the official language policy of Hong Kong has always been formulated according to its social and political situation. During the colonial time, English had been the de jure and de facto sole official language while Chinese was allowed in the colony without government interference. After the Second World War, because of the change in social and political situation, consideration was given to making Chinese one of the official languages.

There is strong evidence showing that the Chinese Language Committee appointed by Governor David Trench in 1968 charted the course of the change in Hong Kong's official language policy between the 1970s and 1990s. The enactment of the Official Languages Ordinance in 1974 pronounced the government's official languages policy for communication between the government institutions and the general public. The amendments to the Official Languages Ordinance, the establishment of the Chinese Language Division under the Civil Service Branch and the expansion of the Office of the Unofficial Members of the Executive and Legislative Councils were responses to the political reality after the signing of the Sino-British Joint Declaration in 1984.

In 1995 and 1996, the Report of the Working Group to Review the Use of Chinese in the Civil Service and the Education Commission Report No.6 prepared for the substantial change of the government's policy to give Chinese a de facto equal, if not superior, status after the return of Hong Kong's sovereignty to China in 1997. The establishment of the Standing Committee on Language and Research in 1996 and its Action Plan published in 2003 symbolize another major change in the official language policy of Hong Kong, especially towards the wider use of Putonghua. There are signs showing that Hong Kong is preparing for a substantial change in its language policy which may extend into every comer of the Special Administrative Region.

Bibliographical Information:


School:The University of Hong Kong

School Location:China - Hong Kong SAR

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:hong kong china legislative council language policy


Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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