Tributes as funeral is held of quadriplegic Tang Siu-pun

Family's tribute as the funeral is held of quadriplegic who begged to be allowed to die, but ended his life as an inspiration to all who knew him

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 December, 2012, 4:55am

A funeral service was held last night for Tang Siu-pun, the quadriplegic who touched Hongkongers' hearts with his plea nearly a decade ago to be allowed to end his life.

Bouquets from government officials, lawmakers and friends surrounded the memorial hall at the Grand Peace Funeral Parlour in Hung Hom.

A banner reading "The fall of a wise man" hung above a picture of Tang, who will be cremated today.

Tang, popularly known by the nickname Ah Bun, died three weeks ago at the age of 43 after being admitted to the Caritas Medical Centre in Sham Shui Po with septicaemia, or blood poisoning.

In their memorial address, Tang's family said he looked peaceful and "finally free" when he died.

They wrote: "A backwards somersault left the cheerful Ah Bun paralysed. He could no longer pursue his dreams and could hardly do anything for himself.

"He had thought of giving up, but with the help of friends, schoolmates, medical staff and volunteers, in the end did not, and he made an effort to live his life to the full." The family added: "Ah Bun has left, but his smile, his attitude and everything will remain in our hearts."

In 2003, Tang wrote a letter to the then chief executive, Tung Chee-hwa, asking for a euthanasia law so he could die. His plea came 12 years after he was left paralysed from the neck down by an accident as he trained for a student gymnastics event.

Tung rejected the request, but Tang's predicament led to a debate about the morality of allowing someone to die. Tang wrote a book about his experience.

Among the mourners at the funeral were Hospital Authority chairman Anthony Wu Ting-yuk, food and health chief Dr Ko Wing-man, minister for labour and welfare Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, Director of Social Welfare Patrick Nip Tak-kuen and Chinese University vice-chancellor Professor Joseph Sung Jao-yiu.

Sung said Tang's story had reminded Hongkongers to cherish life and never to give up hope.

He recalled inviting Tang to the university and staying up chatting with him all night.

Wheelchair-bound Christine Leung Chi-mei, a friend of Tang, said: "He finally has his own life. He can do what he likes now."