Convicted forger and self-styled fung shui master Peter Chan Chun-chuen has compared himself to the apostle St Peter in a letter addressed to his late mother.
In the letter, which he sent after being denied permission to leave Stanley Prison to attend her funeral, he also reiterates his denial that he fabricated the will of late tycoon Nina Wang Kung Yu-sum.
In the message to his mother, Chan, formerly called Tony and a recent Christian convert, quotes a verse from the New Testament's Acts 12, about Peter's miraculous escape from prison, to draw a comparison between his situation and that faced almost 2,000 years ago by the man credited with being the first Pope. "So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him," the verse goes.
He asks his relatives and friends to "pray earnestly" for him as the church did for St Peter, and also quotes the prophet Isaiah, from Acts 42, writing: "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoking wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice."
Chan, 54, will, however, be spared the ultimate fate of St Peter, who is said to have been crucified upside down.
The letter, written in Stanley Prison on Thursday, was seen by the South China Morning Post yesterday as the funeral of his mother, Chan Lee Kam-che, also known as Lee Siu-wah, was held at the Hong Kong Funeral Home in North Point. Chan was allowed a 10-minute phone call to relatives before the funeral began, a source close to his family said.
"My greatest mother," Chan writes, "your little son Chuen hereby wants to tell you honestly one thing that worried you a lot. I … have never done the misdeed of forging the will. In heaven, you can rest in peace. And I know God will tell you that I have absolutely never done such a misdeed as forging the will."
Chan says in the letter that he has been reading the Bible and praying every day in prison, and compares the prison officers to messengers sent by God.
"God did not promise an eternal blue sky," he writes. "But He did promise anyone who believes in Him to have eternal life."
The Correctional Services Department said applications like Chan's would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
Chan's mother died in December at the age of 82. A family friend said a request by Chan to visit his mother in hospital had also been rejected.
Chan was sentenced in July last year for forging a will that purportedly made him the sole beneficiary of Wang's estate. Wang's Chinachem Charitable Foundation was ruled the real heir.