Sir Oswald Cheung 1922-2003 When then-governor Sir David Trench asked lawyer Ossie Cheung to sit on Legco in 1970, one of his best friends advised against it. 'I remember talking to him for quite a few hours to try and talk him out of accepting the appointment into the Legislative Council during the prime of his career,' fellow lawyer Ronald Arculli recalled yesterday. 'Needless to say, I failed and Hong Kong gained.' Hong Kong gained in many ways from the life and service of Sir Oswald Victor Cheung, QC, who died this week. He created many precedents, both in his personal achievements and in law. Cheung - Ossie to his thousands of friends and acquaintances - was the first Chinese to become a Queen's Counsel, appointed in 1965. Later in his career he was the doyen of the Hong Kong Bar. He served on the Executive Council for 12 years and was senior unofficial member of Legco from 1978 to 1981. A devoted lover of horse racing, he was first local resident to be elected chairman of the Hong Kong Jockey Club in 1986 and was knighted the following year. Cheung was the most genial and friendly of men, a lover of fine wines and well-bred horses, an affable and outgoing individual who had friends of every ethnic and social background. Law Society secretary general Patrick Moss said Cheung's court appearances were 'events not to be missed'. 'He was an advocate of the old school who conducted his cases with precision but also with a passion that is not often seen or heard nowadays,' Mr Moss said. Cheung was a Hongkonger of the old school. Born in 1922 to Cheung U-pui and Elizabeth Ellis, he was an ardent Anglophile. He went to Diocesan Boys' School and was at the University of Hong Kong when the Japanese invaded. In later life, he recalled looking back from the vessel taking him and his family to Macau, looking at Hong Kong island receding behind him, and vowing to do what he could to defeat the enemy. He put that promise into practice. He trekked into the mainland and joined the British Liaison Office, going on to serve with military intelligence behind enemy lines, spying on Japanese troop movements and reporting conditions back to headquarters in Guilin. After the war, he served in the Hong Kong Regiment, The Volunteers, and became its honorary colonel. After the war, he won a scholarship to Oxford, where he studied law. He was called to the Bar in 1951 and returned to Hong Kong, where he served as a magistrate. Cheung had once recalled fondly the two years he served as a magistrate. 'It taught me to deal with people,' he said. 'Every appearance in court is a tragedy for someone - the victim, the accused and the families of each.' Chatting with friends at the Happy Valley racecourse, he once remarked that he was an average sort of Hongkonger, a man who smoked too much, liked a few drinks and loved the horses. Three months ago he was badly burned when he tried to light a cigar while in bed, causing a fire that set his pyjamas on fire. He stayed in hospital until his passing, being treated for severe burns. It was a sad end for a man who was praised this week as one of the great Hongkongers of the 20th century. He is survived by his wife, Pauline, and son Rayner.