To some a friend but to others a bit naughty

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 July, 2007, 12:00am

Friends expressed sadness at the death of the 'King of Kowloon', Tsang Tsou-choi, saying the city had lost a cultural icon, while others remembered him as a 'naughty' and 'hot-tempered' neighbour.

'I feel very sad at losing this old friend,' artist and food enthusiast Lau Kin-wai said. 'He was very considerate and kind. He had a photographic memory for people's faces and once he met you, he would remember you.

'His passing means the loss of a cultural icon for Hong Kong.'

Fashion designer William Tang Tat-chi, whose two clothing collections were inspired by Tsang's graffiti, said he admired him with all his heart.

'I did the first series in 1997 for the handover and the second series this year for its 10th anniversary. I did it because his graffiti can truly represent Hong Kong.'

The designer said the 'King' was a playful character. 'When I asked him about using his calligraphy in my collections, he responded happily, 'It is funny. It is very funny',' he said.

Mr Tang said the Tsang contributed a lot to Hong Kong without knowing it.

'The content of his writing was very funny,' he said. 'He wrote that he was a king and the queen of England had deprived him of his rights. It was a very rebellious act in the colonial era.

'His calligraphy was unique, too. There is no one in Hong Kong who has not seen his writing. It was part of many of our lives, a sweet memory.'

But Mr Tang said Tsang's family might not have revered the 'King' quite as much as others did. 'I know his family often found him too naughty and he embarrassed them with his acts.'

He said the funeral date had yet to be set, but it would not be a big one as the family wanted to keep it low profile.

A woman who lived near Tsang for 12 years recalled him as a naughty old man. 'His home was full of his writings. He always picked up cardboard boxes and took them home to use as a bed,' said the woman.

Another neighbour who gave his name as Siu described Tsang as hot-tempered. 'I talked with him sometimes but he would lose his head easily. He always muttered to himself.'

Contemporary home ware and furniture chain G.O.D., which produced two series of lifestyle accessories based on Tsang's work in 1996 and this year, expects previously average sales to soar. 'Hong Kong has lost a man with character, a true artist who held on to his own beliefs,' company founder Douglas Young Chi-chiu said. 'Mr Tsang was a pioneer.'