Veteran Beijing loyalist Xu Simin dies at 93

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 10 September, 2007, 12:00am

Veteran Beijing loyalist Xu Simin died last night in Queen Mary Hospital. He was 93.

Xu, a former member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference's Standing Committee, who had been in hospital since early July, died of organ failure caused by pneumonia about 8pm.

Xu was born in Myanmar in 1914 and was an anti-Japanese activist from the early 1930s.

A delegate to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference since it was founded in 1949, Xu was one of the longest-serving deputies when he stepped down in 2003.

In 1977, he founded the pro-Beijing Mirror Monthly Magazine and became known for his bold and outspoken opinions, which earned him the nickname 'Big Cannon Xu'. A long-time critic of corruption on the mainland, he called for democratic reform and press freedom in the 1980s. He was also a key supporter of a bid by former chief justice Sir Ti-liang Yang to become the city's first chief executive.

In 1998, Xu created a furore when he attacked RTHK as 'remnant of British rule' and called on former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa to exercise greater control over the broadcaster. He also accused RTHK of attacking the government and Mr Tung under the pretext of editorial independence.

National People's Congress Standing Committee member Tsang Hin-chi last night described Xu as a patriot, adding: 'I have already known him for decades. He was a conscientious man.'

Democratic Party lawmaker Cheung Man-kwong said Xu's brand of patriotism was very different from that of the democratic camp and was unacceptable.

'His speech was very conservative. To be patriotic does not mean to support the Communist Party, the leaders or their policies, but to love the people and democracy.'

Fellow pan-democratic lawmaker 'Long Hair' Leung Kwok-hung said Xu was more a 'water gun rather than a big cannon' in terms of his influence.

Mr Leung said: 'He was no longer aggressive. What he said was just to defend the Communists.'

Tam Yiu-chung, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, praised Xu as a rare patriot who had loved his country deeply.

'I am very sad. He was a man who contributed much to the nation and to Hong Kong. His passing brings me agony,' he said.

Xu was awarded a Grand Bauhinia Medal in 1997.