BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: World: Asia-Pacific
Front Page 
Middle East 
South Asia 
From Our Own Correspondent 
Letter From America 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Thursday, 1 June, 2000, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Former Hong Kong governor dies
Hong Kong street scene
Hong Kong: From trading post to key commercial centre
The former Hong Kong governor, Murray MacLehose, who first raised the issue of handing over the territory with Beijing, has died aged 82 at his home in Scotland.

As the British governor of the former colony from 1971 to 1982, Lord MacLehose oversaw its development from a trading post into an international city and one of the key commercial centres in Asia.

He was widely credited with helping Hong Kong prosper, but critics accused him of being too friendly towards China and failing to introduce a democratic system of government into the territory.
handover ceremony, Hong Kong
Hong Kong reverted to Chinese rule in 1997

Lord MacLehose summed up his opposition to full elections, saying: "If the Communists won, that would be the end of Hong Kong. If the nationalists won, that would bring in the Communists," according to Britain's Daily Telegraph.

He later admitted that his opposition to introducing full democracy was "the sort of thing one looks back at and wonders whether one should have done it". But he maintained he still thought he had been right.


In 1979, he raised the question of Britain's 99-year lease of the New Territories, north of Hong Kong island, with then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.
Late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping
Deng Xiaoping discussed handover with Lord MacLehose

The talks paved the way for the handover of the entire territory to China in 1997 following a century and a half of British colonial rule.

He returned to Hong Kong after his retirement to attend the handover ceremony.


A fluent Chinese speaker, Crawford Murray MacLehose was first posted to Hong Kong in 1963 as a political adviser.

He held several other diplomatic posts before becoming Hong Kong's 25th governor in 1971.

During his time in charge, he oversaw a period of unprecedented economic growth including the building of Hong Kong's underground system.

Lord MacLehose, who was knighted in 1983, a year after his retirement, championed social causes, especially education and housing, and the fight against corruption.

He set up the powerful anti-graft body, the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), started an ambitious programme of building public sector housing in huge new towns and expanded free education to secondary level.

Lord MacLehose's name is now a permanent part of Hong Kong's geography.

One of the territory's major sporting events is a challenging run across the 100km MacLehose Trail in the New Territories.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Asia-Pacific stories