HK's 'Stephen Hawking' hoped for hero's burial

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 April, 2012, 12:00am


Lau Hiu-fung, known as 'Hong Kong's Stephen Hawking', had an irrepressible will to survive, and his dying wish was for this iron spirit to transcend his short 27-year life.

A week before he died at Queen Mary Hospital from heart failure on April 2, he told his mother that he wished to be buried in Tribute Garden - a cemetery for residents who died performing exceptional acts of bravery - to inspire young people facing adversity. Lau was diagnosed at eight with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a degenerative disease that causes muscle wasting and difficulty in walking and breathing.

'He couldn't donate his organs because he was so sick,' said his mother, who preferred to be known as Mrs Lau. 'So his dying wish was to donate his spirit which he hopes can inspire future generations.'

With little strength to move his limbs and fingers as his condition progressed, Lau was wheelchair-bound, leading to the comparison with the famed British physicist and author who suffers from a motor neurone disease.

Lau learned to type on a keyboard using a chopstick, and graduated with first-class honours from Polytechnic University with a bachelor's degree in computing in 2009. He went on to work as a researcher for Henry Chan Chun-bun, an associate professor of computing at the university, on developing short messaging services for airport travellers.

He was named by the local chapter of the Junior Chamber International as one of the 'Ten Outstanding Young Persons' in 2010 and won numerous technological accolades for the university. In his spare time, he visited schools and offices to share his life story.

'He always told people, 'Look at me, I can't even pick up something I've dropped',' Mrs Lau recalled. ''And look at you, you can run - imagine how much more you can accomplish than me'.'

Lawmaker Samson Tam Wai-ho, of the information technology functional constituency, helped Lau's parents apply to the Home Affairs Bureau for a place for their son in Tribute Garden.

A spokeswoman said the bureau had just received Lau's application and would consider a place for him in the Fanling cemetary.

Mrs Lau said: 'He always loved company and wanted young people to visit his grave to learn about his life, and leave invigorated.'