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英治初期的「私了」傳統

2019/10/25 — 15:42

位於上環荷李活道的文武廟(資料圖片,來源:政府新聞處)

位於上環荷李活道的文武廟(資料圖片,來源:政府新聞處)

Early Local Judiciary Practice within Hong Kong Local Community under British Rule

中大的社會學家劉兆佳在其著作 Society and Politics in Hong Kong,提出早年英屬香港是一個「低度整合社會」,官僚體系與香港傳統社會皆有「邊界意識」,兩者只有有限的連結。因此,前者和後者都儘量採取互不干涉的態度,官僚體系亦無意改變傳統社會的現況。[1]

英治初期,香港傳統社會有一定的自治行為,包括自行處理一些法律糾紛。港大教授 Prof. John M. Carroll 在專書文章 [2] 描述香港早年的富商例如盧亞貴(Loo Aqui)以及譚亞財(Tam Achoy)在為英人辦事獲利之後,在荷李活道設立文武廟。文武廟表面上的用途是用來拜神,但後來逐漸成為本地人口的社會中心(main social centre),然後再慢慢演變成本地自行管理的非正式政府。甚至後來譚、盧二人將文武廟變成非正式的法庭,解決法律糾紛,自行管理本地群體的事務。

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在 1873 年出版的 The China Review [3] 曾記載:

1847 年,斯文景 [4] 和譚才興建文武廟,並在在其中公審別人。

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然後直到 1851 年,隨著下市場(Lower Bazaar)的老闆負責修繕文武廟,並獲選成為管理廟宇的委員,他們從那時起就開始處理所有關於公共利益的事宜。[5] 再直到後來,一班本地精英、仕紳階級在 1872 年成立的東華醫院,逐步取代了文武廟的角色,變成了本地群體的文化以及社會中心。為避免涉及本地群體不熟悉的英國法律、法庭以及其貪腐的職員,很多本地人都依賴東華醫院的理事(Hospital Committee)去排解他們之間的民事糾紛 [6]。

由此可見,在香港的傳統上,在既有制度底下自行私下解決問題的慣例早已存在。

As per the Society and Politics in Hong Kong, sociologist Siu-kai Lau suggested in his publication that in the earlier era of British occupation, Hong Kong demonstrated as a minimally-integrated social-political system, which implies, in short, the co-existence of a bureaucratic polity and a chinese society, with limited linkages and exchanges between time; both sides also had a “boundary conscious ”and each was wary of “intrusion” by the other.

Hence, in the earlier era of British rule, local Hong Kong community enjoyed, to a certain extent, self-governance, encompassing resolving their legal disputes on their own. Prof. John M. Carroll mentioned in his article [2] that tycoons during which ranging from Loo Aqui to Tam Achoy built Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road after accumulating substantial wealth through serving the British. Ostensibly, Man Mo Temple was a place for worshiping gods; however, it evolved into a main social centre amongst the local community. And it soon became self-managed, informal government of the local community.

According to the China Review in 1873, it said

In 1874, Sz-man King and Tam Tsoi built the Man Mo Temple and here they judge the people in public assembly.

Until 1851, the shopkeepers of the Lower Bazaar 'repaired to Man-Mo Temple, elected a Committee, and therein decided all cases of any public interest.' [5] And after that, in 1872, the local elites and merchants founded Tung Wah Hospital and it later on, apart from rendering medical services, advanced into a cultural and social centre of the local community. In the meanwhile, the local community was eager to avoid unfamiliar British law, with its court and corrupted clerk, they therefore resort to Tung Wah Hospital and settled their civil disputes with the judgement made by the hospital committee [6].

With the aforementioned fact, readers could have an inkling to Hong Kong judiciary practice within the local community in the early British occupation.

作者製圖

作者製圖

參考資料 | References
[1] Society and Politics in Hong Kong. Author: Siu-kai Lau.
[2] Chinese Collaboration in the making of British Hong Kong. Author: John M, Carroll. In Hong Kong History: State and Society under Colonial Rule. Editor: Tak-wing Ngo.
[3] The China Review. Publisher: The China Mail.
[4] (即盧亞貴)。Hong Kong History: From Ancient Time to 1949. ( Tujie Xianggang Lishi: Yuangu zhi yijiusijiunian |圖解香港史:遠古至一九四九年).
[5] Chinese Christian: Elite, Middlemen and the Church in Hong Kong. Author: Carl. T. Smith.
[6] A Concise History of Hong Kong. Author: John M, Carroll.

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