Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam praises late rural chief ‘Uncle Fat’

Condolence book opened at headquarters of Heung Yee Kuk, which Lau Wong-fat headed for 35 years

PUBLISHED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 8:09pm
UPDATED : Friday, 11 August, 2017, 11:19pm

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor paid tribute to late rural patriarch Lau Wong-fat, describing him as a model of “love country, love Hong Kong” in the condolence book.

The political heavyweight known as “Uncle Fat” passed away on July 23 at the age of 80.

A 600-strong committee comprising business tycoons, former and serving Hong Kong leaders and mainland officials has been set up to prepare for his funeral.

Will Hong Kong’s Heung Yee Kuk rural powerhouse endure without ‘big brother’ Lau Wong-fat?

His portrait amid white flowers was placed in the Heung Yee Kuk headquarters. A condolence book is open there until next Thursday for the public to leave messages.

Above his portrait was a memorial arch saying in Chinese: “Highly virtuous and respectable”.

Lau was head of the Heung Yee Kuk, which advises the government on rural affairs, for 35 years and was both a member of the city’s legislature and the Executive Council, which advises the government.

Lau Wong-fat – master politician who has left big shoes to fill

Carrie Lam visited the headquarters on Friday afternoon, bowing to Lau’s portrait and offering condolences to his family, including his son, Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, who succeeded his father as Heung Yee Kuk chairman and as an executive and legislative councillor.

“Working hard to improve the livelihood of villagers and facilitating the development of rural areas, [you] are a model of love country, love Hong Kong and love the rural community. Uncle Fat, we miss you forever,” Lam wrote in the condolence book.

Lam’s predecessor, Leung Chun-ying, came two hours later and left the words: “Uncle Fat, rest in peace.” Leung, along with former transport and housing undersecretary Yau Shing-mu, had a long chat with Kenneth Lau.

Yau meanwhile wrote a long piece, praising Lau’s efforts in fighting for villagers and voicing support for Hongkongers. He thanked Lau in particular for helping villagers from Choi Yuen, which was levelled in 2010 to make way for the construction of the high-speed railway to Guangzhou.

Also visiting to pay tribute were Permanent Secretary for Development Bernadette Linn Hon-Ho, Beijing liaison office deputy head He Jing and New People’s Party lawmaker Eunice Yung Hoi-yan. The son of Henderson tycoon Lee Shau-kee, Martin Lee Ka-shing, went there in the evening.

A Buddhist funeral will be held next Thursday. Separate rituals will be held at the Heung Yee Kuk headquarters in Sha Tin, outside the Tin Hau temple in Tuen Mun and in Lau’s home village of Lung Kwu Tan before he is buried on a hillside site near the village.