GBA Lifestyle News
By Yannie Chan | March 14th, 2016

For nearly half a century, Chinese people were not allowed to live on The Peak. It all comes down to the Peak District Reservation Ordinance, which started in 1904 and ended in 1947.

When Legco passed the racially based Ordinance, it designated part of the Victoria Peak as a no-Chinese zone, unless you were working as a domestic helper. If you were Chinese and wanted to live on The Peak, you needed an approval from the Governor-in-Council.

On paper, the Ordinance was said to prevent the Bubonic plague from spreading. The plague had caused some 100,000 deaths by that point, and with studies attributing the plague to the unhygienic living conditions and poor sanitary habits of the Chinese, lawmakers set out to safeguard European communities from the perceived health threat.

But even after the plague was under control, the Ordinance remained in place, and some historians believed that the real aim of the law was racial and social segregation, and a way to maintain European privilege. Refer to, for instance, a clause in the Ordinance that reserved the Peak Tram at certain times — like the busy rush hour 8 to 10am — for only top officials and first-class passengers.

And it wasn’t just The Peak. In the 1930s, the Chinese were not allowed in many high-end hotels and clubs. Chinese-style architecture was also banned in Central.

In 1947, finally, the government lifted the ban.

Twenty years before the end of the Ordinance, powerful businessman Ho Tung was said to be the first Chinese person to reside in the wealthy mountainside community. He built his residence Ho Tung Gardens on The Peak in 1927, but at the time he was considered mixed-race and not Chinese.