Hunger-striking Zen is going strong

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 October, 2011, 12:00am


Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun was given a clean bill of health on the second day of his three-day hunger strike yesterday. He also received a visit from Next Media chairman Jimmy Lai Chee-ying.

Zen, 79, who has been drinking only water, is protesting against the government's school management reforms, which he says will weaken the Catholic diocese's control over its schools. The diocese lost its case in the Court of Final Appeal this month.

A nurse said an examination revealed that all Zen's health indicators remained normal. Zen said: 'I'm healthy, I'm not hurting myself.'

About 100 supporters, including Lai, went to the Salesian Community House in Chai Wan where Zen is holding his protest. Documents leaked this week show Lai donated more than HK$20 million to Zen, but Lai declined to comment.

'[Zen] has retired, but he still went on hunger strike,' said a woman supporter from Lai Chi Kok. 'You can see he's not doing this for his personal interests.'

S. F. Fung, another supporter who used to teach at a Catholic school, said: 'The cardinal is more respectable than political leaders.

'The government wants to control our education, but our values are actually unique.'

One-time TV star and well-wisher Maggie Chan said Zen came from the mainland and understood government control.

'[Zen] was from China; he knows well about [political] penetration. Maybe Catholic schools will no longer teach the Bible,' she said.

Zen will end the protest today.