Beijing loyalists salute newsman

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


Beijing loyalists and officials paid their last tributes yesterday morning at a public memorial for Lee Tze-chung, the respected newspaperman who challenged the central government in 1989.

The public memorial, which an 87-member committee organised, is the second (and last) day of a service for Lee at the Hong Kong Funeral Home in North Point.

As president of Wen Wei Po, Lee and the paper's then chief editor published a historic editorial on May 21 with just four Chinese words, reading 'deep grief and bitter hatred', after Beijing ordered the People's Liberation Army to enforce martial law on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.

The committee's honorary chairman was Li Gang, the deputy director of the central government's liaison office, while Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing was one of several deputy chiefs. Members included Ng Hong-mun, a former local member to the National People's Congress, Elsie Leung Oi-sie, former secretary for justice, and other Beijing supporters. 'The liaison office's participation in the funeral committee is recognition of Lee's contribution to the news industry,' said Ng.

'Lee's contribution to modern China is immense ... so the participation of the liaison office in the funeral committee is a matter of course,' said former Wen Wei Po reporter Ching Cheong, who was once jailed on the mainland for nearly three years after being accused of spying for Taiwan.

The public memorial service began with a speech from Wang Shu-cheng, the chief editor of Wen Wei Po, and messages of condolence followed from members of the NPC, the liaison office and Lee's friends.

The messages affirmed Lee's contribution to the newspaper industry and as 'a person who loved the country and the city'.

A masked man, who only identified himself as Chan, intended to join the service with a sign in Chinese that repeated the editorial condemnation Lee published in 1989. But funeral home workers refused to let him enter.

Chan said he respected Lee though he did not know him in person. '[Lee] spoke from his heart in 1989, unlike the officials today who either refuse to comment on the June 4 crackdown or criticise protesters and memorials on the incident.'

Chief executive-elect Leung Chun-ying paid his respects during a private service for family and friends on Monday and recognised Lee's contribution to the city's newspaper industry.