When Emily Lau took on Maggie

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 October, 2004, 12:00am

When young reporter Emily Lau Wai-hing turned the tables on Britain's then prime minister Margaret Thatcher in a news conference she became an overnight celebrity among her peers.

'There is still television footage of it floating around,' said Ms Lau, now a veteran Hong Kong legislator and former Far Eastern Economic Review reporter.

'I took her to task over delivering 5 million people into the hands of a communist dictatorship.'

Her fiery challenge earned her instant respect among fellow Review reporters.

Ms Lau yesterday told of her sadness at the demise of the once-feared weekly publication.

'During the 1980s, the Review was very often quoted and many people read it but it has suffered over the years ... until it cannot continue to exist,' she said. The Frontier founder said she was proud to be among a roll call of some of Asia's biggest names who worked for the 58-year-old publication. Others included former Central Policy Unit head Leo Goodstadt, who was the Review's deputy editor and wrote under the pseudonym Marco Polo in the Asia Inc column of the 1970s.

Goodstadt gave Chief Justice Judge Andrew Li Kwok-nang a job on the magazine while he was studying.

Financial gurus such as Credit Lyonnais Securities Asia boss Gary Coull and Singapore hotel entrepreneur Ho Kwon Ping also worked on the magazine.

Assassinated opposition leader Benigno Aquino wrote articles about Philippine youth in revolt and Malaysia's former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad wrote a letter to the editor outlining his plan to bring the Malays out of poverty.

Dealing with sensitive domestic political and business issues, the Review often drew flak from the authorities in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore.

Former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew bristled over a report on a security crackdown against church activists in 1987. The subsequent libel action in Singapore courts resulted in him winning a huge damages claim.

Dow Jones, led by the husband-and-wife team of chairman and chief executive Peter Kann and vice-president Karen Elliott House, took full ownership in a share shuffle the same year.