Chapter 4: Past policies, current arrangements: the enduring influence of British colonial social policy in Malaysia and Hong Kong
The formal handover of Hong Kong to China on 1 July 1997 marked the end of British colonial involvement in East Asia. Hong Kong became a special administrative region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China, and more than 150 years of British rule came to an end. Malaysia had already gained its independence some 40 years earlier and has transformed itself from an agricultural-based economy into a diversified and rapidly developing economy. However, although they are very different in many respects in terms of ethnic make-up, geographical location and size, social policy in both Malaysia and Hong Kong presents clear examples of past policy decisions continuing to influence and shape post-colonial policy trajectories. Although the term ‘East Asia’ is often geographically restricted to states such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and China (see also Chapter 1 in this volume), this chapter utilizes a looser definition of East Asia and incorporates a wider region to include South-East Asia, which, in common with those states above, has produced high-performing economies based upon manufacture-based export growth. In what was then Malaya, the clear aim of the colonial administrators was to promote and sustain economic returns for the expatriate managerial and mercantile classes, often (if not always) at the expense of the indigenous population, though even here this was differentiated according to ethnicity and gender.
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