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National People's Congress

Minister tells of his doubts over Li's death

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 June, 2012, 12:00am

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Outgoing health minister Dr York Chow Yat-ngok has become the first top official to publicly raise doubts about the suspicious death of Tiananmen activist Li Wangyang.

Chow said that judging from the available evidence, it 'did not look like a suicide'.

He called on people close to the central government to express Hongkongers' concerns over the incident to Beijing.

Another outgoing official, security minster Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, also commented on the incident for the first time, expressing hope that the truth would come out.

Their comments follow Sunday's protest by 25,000 people demanding an investigation into Li's death in his hospital room in Shaoyang, Hunan last Wednesday.

His sister and her husband found him hanging from the window, but his feet still reached the ground.

The authorities' claim he killed himself have been challenged and triggered calls for an investigation.

At a gathering with digital media on Monday, Chow said: 'From the point of view of a doctor, there are two suspicious circumstances.

'First, he [Li] was severely disabled. It would not be easy for a severely disabled person to commit suicide. [Judging] from the photos and other aspects, it did not look like a suicide.

'Second, judging his character from previous media interviews, it seems he was not the kind of person who would not leave a note if he had committed suicide.'

Chow, who will leave his post after July 1, said: 'I hope those close to the central government, including the deputies of the National People's Congress (NPC) and the delegates to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference would express Hongkongers' concerns.'

Lee, the secretary for security, said: 'I believe the incident cannot be separated from facts. Like many people in Hong Kong, I hope the truth will come out.'

Lawmaker Lee Cheuk-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, said Chow had made a fair comment, but he was disappointed that only outgoing officials were willing to comment.

Chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying, who is due to take office on July 1, repeatedly declined to comment on the incident at the weekend.

Chow said: 'Everyone has their own position and opinion. It would be up to him [Leung] to decide how to express his.'

James Chu Shi, director general of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Hong Kong, said the Taiwanese media had also widely reported Li's death.

But he said it would be inappropriate for him to comment on Leung's response to the incident.

Chu also said Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou would have responded to issues of public concern as he was elected by universal suffrage.

The Civic Party was yesterday urging people to sign a petition in Central demanding an inquiry into Li's death.

Executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong, who is also an NPC deputy, said he had drafted a letter to NPC chairman Wu Bangguo .

He said: 'I wrote in the letter that Li Wangyang's death has ... aroused much apprehension from Hong Kong citizens.

'I very much hope the chairman would order relevant departments to thoroughly investigate this matter.'

Wong Kwok-kin, a lawmaker affiliated with the Beijing-loyalist Federation of Trade Unions, of which Cheng is an honorary president, earlier dismissed the need for NPC deputies to show concern over Li's death.