Szeto wah tapes to stay private
Szeto Wah's family has rejected a call to disclose audio recordings concerning the democracy stalwart's ties with the Communist Party, saying it was his instruction they remain private.
At the same time, Szeto's younger brother, Szeto Keung, insisted that the late chairman of the Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China did not request to join the Communist Party, although he joined the precursor to the Communist Youth League in 1949.
Szeto Wah died of cancer at the age of 79 in January.
The mention of his link with the Communist Party in his posthumous memoir, The Endless River Eastward Flows: A Memoir, scheduled to hit the shelves on July 20, has caused his allies in the pan-democratic camp to question the authenticity of its contents.
Szeto Keung's participation in the book has also raised suspicion it has political overtones. He was a high official in the Hong Kong branch of Xinhua before 1997.
Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat had called on the family to make the audio recordings public.
'My brother revealed his link with the Communist Party in his memoir because he wanted Hong Kong people to learn his painful lessons of being cheated and abandoned by the communists,' Szeto Keung said yesterday.
He said his brother first told his family in 1996 he planned to write a memoir and made recordings on three audio tapes that year. He made further recordings after he became very ill early last year.
'It was my brother's instruction not to disclose the recordings,' Szeto Keung said. 'Those demanding disclosure obviously treat my brother and we family members as prisoners who have to prove our innocence.'
He said he supported his brother's wish to vindicate those killed in the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown and fight for democracy, and stressed that they had no intention of smearing him or undermining his reputation.
In 1949, Szeto Wah co-founded the Hok Yau Club, a left-leaning student group.
According to his memoir, he joined the New Democracy Youth League in September 1949. The league was renamed the Communist Youth League in 1957.
Szeto Keung, 79, said his brother left the Hok Yau Club in 1960, two years after his allies were purged in an internal power struggle. Szeto Wah, who held views divergent from local leaders of the Communist Party, was appointed the honorary chief editor of a left-leaning children's journal in 1960, but it ceased operation a few months later.
'In 1966, my brother asked Au Yeung Shing-chiu, the club's leader who was responsible for maintaining contacts between the communists and my brother, what they planned to do with his membership in the league, whose age limit was set at 25, and how they intended to handle his relationship with the communists,' Szeto Keung said.
Au Yeung told Szeto Wah, who was 35 at the time, that the age limit had been raised to 45. Not convinced, he spoke to Meng Qiujiang, a core member of the party's Hong Kong and Macau Works Committee. Meng agreed to follow up on his case but jumped to his death in Shanghai in 1967.
'My brother did not request to join the Communist Party at that time. He was simply disillusioned with his abandonment by the communists,' Szeto Keung said.