The Rt. Hon. Sir John Major KG CH

Prime Minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland 1990-1997

1991Prime Minister (1990-1997)

Mr Major’s Statement in Vietnam – 4 September 1991

Below is the text of Mr Major’s statement after a visit to the Vietnamese Boat People in Hong Kong on Wednesday 4th September 1991.


No-one need expect me to deal with matters of policy at the moment or matters of that kind. Nobody can have a look at the camps and see the concern of the people who live there and hear the stories of why they came without being moved.

There is a twin tragedy, the tragedy of course for Hong Kong that alone of all the countries in the region has operated a policy of first asylum and faces a problem that it is incredibly difficult for them to deal with and that they have faced with great bravery and courage for a long time; and then the tragedy of the individual families who are here who felt compelled to leave the homes they had before to seek something better.

Tonight is not an occasion for statements of policy. I wanted to come and see the camps for myself, to talk to the people who were here, to discuss the problem with the Administration in Hong Kong, to talk to the people, many of them volunteers, who work in the camps, to look at the facilities that are here, see the schools, the shop at the moment of course is closed, to learn at first-hand what the recreational and other facilities are like.

However much sophisticated briefing you can obtain, it is always necessary to see for yourself what is happening and that of course was why I principally wanted to come this evening and I am very glad that I did.

Thank you all very much. There will be a press conference tomorrow and I will take questions on that occasion.