Elsie Tu

Traditional grey farewell for 21 Urbco veterans

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 March, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 March, 1995, 12:00am


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GO down to the Urban Council, they said, and write us some colour.

Okay. The colour is grey. Not that so much grey was visible.

With the honourable exception of Elsie Tu, most of the natural greys have long since dyed their few remaining strands a youthful black. And even Mrs Tu's curly shock isn't really grey. It's white.

But the proceedings? They were as grey as a cold day in March.

Why, you might ask, did anyone expect a riot of colour? The answer, if you're really interested, lay in a little press release put out yesterday morning.

'The Urban Council will hold an historic monthly meeting this [Tuesday] afternoon,' it said, 'when it meets for the last time as a Council comprising appointed and elected members.

'Chairman Dr Ronald Leung Ding-bong will deliver a statement to bid farewell to the 21 councillors who will be leaving the Council at the end of the month.' And then came what aficionados of the Council would have spotted as the real clincher: 'Councillor Chan Choi-hi will ask a question on possible improvement to the low percentage of leased stalls in Urban Council markets.' The trouble was, the media, which prefers to look for its news in the first paragraph of any statement, thought the description 'historic' referred to the departure of the appointed members, not the debate on unleased stalls in indoor vegetable markets.

There was hushed expectation as Dr Leung rose to deliver his address. Twenty-one members would be leaving, taking with them a total of 210 years of experience. All would get at least one mention in his speech, some would get two-thirds of a page to themselves.

This summary will be less comprehensive. But we cannot go without mentioning Brook Bernacchi and the Venerable Tu.

Mr Bernacchi, who has spent 43 of his 73 years moving on and off the Urbco roster, gives his occupation in the Urban Council annual report as 'Queen's Counsel, Barrister at Law, Tea Farmer'. But Dr Leung praised him for his years of enthusiastic work and strong leadership in Urbco. Mr Bernacchi smiled modestly.

And then there was Mrs Tu. Were we going to see an emotional outburst as the doyenne of the political world suddenly faced the full consequences of last week's bitter electoral defeat? How would she react as 32 years as an Urban Councillor came to an end with this whimper? Mrs Tu smiled modestly. We had our answer. Only council vice-chairman Lo King-man gave a return speech, praising Dr Leung. And that was it. The end of an era.

It remained only to debate the problem of unrented stalls.