Kevin Sinclair dies after long battle with cancer

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 December, 2007, 12:00am

Kevin Sinclair, journalist, author and passionate supporter of Hong Kong, died yesterday after a long battle with cancer. He was 65.

With a gifted turn of phrase and a talent for spotting a good story, Sinclair's career in journalism included roles as reporter, news editor and columnist with the South China Morning Post and saw him collect an MBE from Britain's Queen Elizabeth.

Along the way there were countless scoops and thunderous columns, dozens of books, many drinks and Tap Mun seafood lunches, and a fierce loyalty to friends, family and the city he had called home since the late 1960s.

His battle with cancer - which started with a tumour in his throat and bestowed upon him his trademark tracheotomy - may have persisted since the mid-1970s, but it did not stop Sinclair from continuing to give readers his rare insight into the heart of the city - or from living life to the full - right up until his last days.

Many of his friends and fans - from Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, former police commissioner Dick Lee Ming-kwai and SCMP Group chairman Kuok Khoon Ean - will consider themselves lucky to have been able to say goodbye at the launch of Sinclair's autobiography, Tell Me a Story: Forty Years of Newspapering in Hong Kong and China, last Wednesday at the Foreign Correspondents' Club.

Sinclair had to stay seated during the event but was bravely prepared to acknowledge well-wishers and sign just about every book in the room. Two days later, he was readmitted to hospital for the last time.

In a letter to the Sinclair family to express his condolences, the chief executive said he was moved by the courage and tenacity that Sinclair displayed during his book signing.

'Although born a Kiwi, to me, Kevin typified the undaunted Hong Kong spirit - a fact borne out by the enormous mental and physical effort it must have taken to finish his book, and Kevin's determination to see his friends and colleagues at the FCC even at a time when he was gravely ill. It was an honour and a privilege for me personally to have been able to talk to him that night, and to have received a copy of his book.'

Post editor C.K. Lau described Sinclair as an excellent storyteller and writer. 'He made a great contribution to the Post and to Hong Kong through his four decades of journalism here.'

Sinclair is survived by his wife, Kit, daughter, Kiri, and son, David.

Mrs Sinclair yesterday said: 'Kevin and I had an adventurous, exciting, loving life together for 38 years. His passion for life will be with me forever.'