OBITUARY

City-born top Chinese official in colonial era dies

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 5:19am

Mo Kwan-nin, the highest ranking Chinese official with a local background appointed during the colonial era, died on Saturday aged 76.

Mo passed away in a local hospital on 7.02pm from an undisclosed illness, sources said.

He was born in the city in 1937 and graduated from the Chinese Department at the University of Hong Kong in 1961.

Mo became a Chinese and Chinese history teacher at Methodist College in Yau Ma Tei. He was later put in charge of the school's curriculum.

He joined the Hong Kong office of Xinhua News Agency, the de facto representative office of Beijing in the colonial era, in 1984 and was appointed its deputy director in 1987. This was seen as a Chinese Communist Party gesture to show its recognition of Hongkongers.

Mo was also appointed secretary-general of the Basic Law Consultative Committee.

Hong Kong-based political commentator Johnny Lau Yui-siu said Mo became an underground member of the Communist Party after he joined Xinhua.

This was not disclosed until the China News Service accidentally exposed his membership in a report during the party's 13th National Congress.

After this disclosure, Lau said Mo's role became less significant. His stance on the June 4 crackdown in 1989 also significantly diverged from Beijing's and his career was in limbo after that. He was honoured with the Grand Bauhinia medal in 2000.

Lau paid tribute to Mo, saying he had served Beijing with pure intention, which was rare at that time. "What he had given to the country was much more than what he could earn back," Lau said.

Sources said a committee to organise his funeral has been set up by Beijing's liaison office in the city.