Waiting may be over at grave of an unsung hero

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 April, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 April, 2011, 12:00am


Yeung Hing-on understands well the meaning of the saying: 'Better late than never.'

Yeung, a nephew of assassinated revolutionary Yeung Kui-wan, has waited years for the government to honour a pledge it made in 2004 that a commemorative plaque would be placed on his uncle's grave by 2005.

Six years later, on March 1, the Home Affairs Bureau announced it would erect a plaque beside the revolutionary's unnamed tomb at the Hong Kong Cemetery in Happy Valley by the middle of this year.

It would be one of the activities to commemorate the centenary of the 1911 revolution.

'I am glad that they have renewed their promise and that the plaque will be in place this year, but this is not enough,' Yeung said.

'Yeung Kui-wan and Hong Kong deserve more recognition for the contributions they made to the 1911 revolution.'

Yeung Kui-wan - known as Yang Quyun on the mainland - was one of the earliest martyrs to die in the revolution against the Qing dynasty.

He was an ally of Dr Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of modern China.

Yeung and Tse Tsan-tai, who founded the South China Morning Post in 1903, formed the Fu-ren Wen-she (Literary Society for the Promotion of Benevolence) in 1892.

The society, based in Pak Tse Lane, near Graham Street in Central, advocated revolution to build a modern republic and prosperity for China.

Its teachings included 'How to set an example for future young Chinese' and 'To learn how to be, and act as, a patriot'.

Yeung and Tse joined forces with Sun to form the Hong Kong chapter of the Revive China Society (Hsing Chung Hui) in 1895.

Yeung was elected president of the society, which made its first attempt to capture Guangdong in the same year. He was elected president of a 'provisional government' but the uprising failed, as did another to capture Huizhou in 1900.

The Qing court ordered the assassination of Yeung at his home at 52 Gage Street, in 1901. Yeung's family decided not to put his name on the tomb since the court still had some informal control over Hong Kong.

So Yeung's tombstone was inscribed with only the serial number '6348' to avoid being targeted. The younger Yeung has spent the past decade trying to revive his forgotten ancestor's legacy. He has written a play and a book on the life of the martyr. He gives speeches and also writes regular letters to the government.

'I'm not only doing this to revive Yeung Kui-wan's legacy. I'm also doing it for Hong Kong,' he said.

'At that time, Hong Kong opened a window for a group of educated Chinese to learn Western culture and democracy.'

On the mainland, many people dissatisfied with the Qing court were too afraid to speak up or take action.

But Hong Kong provided an environment for the dissidents to get together and form groups that served as catalysts for the transformation of China in later years.

'It is a part of our history and something we can be very proud of. The government should be more active in promoting this,' Yeung said.

He has written to Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board Bernard Chan demanding the government declare the nameless tomb a monument.

He is also urging the Central and Western District to name a planned park at Pak Tse Lane after Yeung Kui-wan or the literary society that was located there.

As part of a revitalisation project in Peel and Graham Streets, the Urban Renewal Authority is building a park in Pak Tse Lane to commemorate Hong Kong's contribution to the revolution. At present the park, which will be completed next year, will be named after the street.

Cheng Lai-king, a Democratic Party district councillor for the Central and Western District, says the park should be renamed to highlight Hong Kong's role in the revolution.

'Yeung Kui-wan played an important role in the early years of the revolution,' she said. 'If he had not been assassinated, history might not have been the same.

'I think it is fair to at least name the park after the society he founded. Otherwise, what is the point of building a park at Pak Tse Lane?'


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