WELCOME TO HONG KONG | Gwulo: Old Hong Kong


This first appeared in issue #2 of 'History Notes', compiled by the late Phillip Bruce. It is reproduced here on Gwulo by kind permission of Mr Bruce's family.

"Today, about noon, a disgraceful affair happened at Pedder's Wharf, which should go a long way to assure a more effectual police arrangement for that quarter.

"Three gentlemen passengers from the French mail steamer were coming on shore with their baggage in the sampans and as soon as that landing place was reached a gang of coolies rushed at the boat as only Hong Kong coolies can rush, to seize the passengers' luggage and carry it off for them. Clinging to the side of the boat they caused her to slant to one side and seven or eight packages of luggage were thrown into the water, portmanteaux, valuable guns in cases, boxes, hatboxes etc, were all thrown into the harbour.

"One of the passengers was thrown off his balance by the boat being so nearly capsized and found himself deep in the water. The coolies, seeing they had made a mess of it, turned tail in a body and made for home. A Sikh policeman was close by at the time but made no attempt to lay hold of any, or to follow them, or call assistance or anything else. He simply, says an eye witness, 'stared like a fool and waved his hands like a windmill'.

"First impressions are very often of much moment and last for a long time. There is little temptation to enquire into the nature of the first impression of those who were treated in this way on landing, or rather attempting to land here; but a few moments reflection will show that it is high time such gross and glaring outrages were put a stop to. This is not by any means the first case of this kind that we have heard of. We have heard of many such happenings, but we are sorry to say have never yet heard of the roughs being caught and punished for their lawless proceedings."

China Mail, March 21, 1879.