Emotions run high for celebrity friends - and for fans who arrive early to ensure Anita Mui receives a fitting send-off In her 21-year career, Anita Mui Yim-fong touched countless hearts with her music and films. The emotions she inspired flowed freely yesterday as Hong Kong turned out to say farewell to one of its brightest stars. Fans and paparazzi began arriving as early as 7am to secure a prime position for the star-studded send-off at the Hong Kong Funeral Home in North Point, and for Mui's cremation at Cape Collinson. Celebrities including Andy Lau Tak-wah, Eric Tsang Chi-wai, Cheung Man-yee, Michelle Yeoh, David Tao and Tony Leung Chiu-wai began arriving at 8am for the 11 o'clock Buddhist ceremony, led by the Venerable Kok Kwong and about 20 monks and lamas. Mui's hearse, preceded by three busloads of mourners, rolled by at close to 1pm. Fans cried 'I love you' as the white, rose-covered vehicle passed. It was a fitting farewell for a woman whose work struck a chord with so many people. Wendy Chung Mong-sze, 24, was just one of the many who felt personally touched by Mui. 'I'm here because I sang a song with her once when I was five years old and I want to see her for the last time,' Ms Chung said. Lee Shing-kong, 40, waved huge posters of Mui as the star began her final journey. 'I am the same age as Mui,' he said. 'Life is so short. I still remember the time when I used to [put] her posters on the streets whenever her new albums came out.' Dominic Ng, who recently returned to Hong Kong from Tasmania with his wife Robyn, was moved by the number of people who turned out to say farewell to Mui. 'Hong Kong people seem to be very faithful to their movie stars,' Mr Ng said. 'The only thing I can remember that was like this was Bruce Lee's funeral when I was little.' His wife said the loss of Mui was a terrible tragedy. 'It's just so sad ... It's unbelievable, unbelievable.' Mui, who released nearly 50 albums and starred in many films and television programmes throughout her career, lost her battle with cancer on December 30, aged 40. In the Java Road basketball courts in North Point a makeshift shrine to Mui was overflowing with flowers, folded paper stars and other tributes. 'We love you, you are our queen', read one. Inside the funeral home, a less public side of Mui's life was revealed. One wreath apparently confirmed her involvement in Operation Yellow Bird, an effort to smuggle dissidents out of the mainland following the June 4, 1989, massacre of pro-democracy activists in Tiananmen Square. Outside, one woman burned posters of Mui and close friend and collaborator Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, who committed suicide last April. 'I hope for them to become husband and wife in the next life,' she said. 'They were so close in this one that it is natural they should be together in the next.' Form Two students Cloris Chan and friend Karen Chan took advantage of an exam-shortened day to pay their respects. 'We've loved her since we were five or six,' Cloris said. 'It is so sad that she is leaving us today.' While the scenes in Java Road were fairly contained, it was a different story at Cape Collinson. Fans sang songs, threw flowers and wept uncontrollably as a large photo of Mui was paraded in front of them by Canto-pop star Nicholas Tse Ting-fung, a close friend of Mui, and the star's nephew, Mui Pak-lun. John Sham Kin-fun, who helped organise the funeral, said Mui's eldest brother, Mui Kai-ming, had been to Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Chai Wan after an asthma attack. 'It was only because there was too much smoke at the crematorium,' he said. Mr Mui was released later in the afternoon after being treated.