Uncle Jim puts family first at the end

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 02 December, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 02 December, 2004, 12:00am

Relatives take centre stage at low-key farewell for master lyricist

James Wong Jim, master of Canto-pop lyrics, creative ad man and intelligent show host who brought Hong Kong people unforgettable songs and laughter, kept the surprises coming until the end with an extremely low-key funeral.

Wong staged his last show yesterday afternoon at Cape Collinson. Unlike the funerals of superstars like Roman Tam Pak-sin, Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing and Anita Mui Yim-fong, Wong's event was no star-studded occasion echoing with fans' mourning cries.

Only close family members attended the funeral. Wong's coffin, covered in a red cloth with gold embroidery, was carried to Cape Collinson at 1.25pm.

Ten minutes later, his family members dressed in black, including his wife Winnie Chan Wai-man, sons Wong Yu-hong and Wong Yu-man, daughter Ursula Wong Yu-sze, and ex-wife, former singer Wah Wa, mother of the three children, arrived one by one. But writer Eunice Lam Yin-nei, who Wong once said he loved the most, did not attend the funeral.

Wong's close celebrity friends were not spotted either.

Ten security guards hugged the entrance of the service hall, where the funeral was conducted according to Buddhist rites.

Wong's cremation took place at 2.15pm. His oldest son, Yu-hong, came out of the service hall with a framed colour photo of Wong. He was accompanied by Ngai Chun, son of Wong's long-time writer friend Ngai Hong. Ms Chan followed. They took a seven-seat white Regius and left. Other family members came out afterwards, holding red packets.

Wong's close friends, TV producer Siu Chiu-shun and Mr Ngai, were in and out of the hall but they did not attend the ceremony.

Mr Siu said afterwards that it was Wong's idea to keep the funeral low profile.

'He did not want to be seen by friends,' said Mr Siu, who was at Cape Collinson to help organise the funeral.

'No friends had seen him during his last days,' he said. 'I guess he put his family as first priority. A funeral is very hurtful for the living ones. His family wants to keep a low profile as well.'

Although it was Wong's wish, Mr Siu said: 'I have been very willing to produce shows written by him, except for this one.'

Mr Ngai praised Wong as the most all-rounded creative person in Chinese history.

'While I was compiling Jim Suk's (Uncle Jim's) biography for the booklet (to be distributed at Sunday's memorial service), I realised that he grew up with Hong Kong.

'He witnessed the prosperity of Hong Kong ... Hong Kong was once a great place ... not the stockmarket ... I mean really bright,' Mr Ngai said, and then broke into tears.

'He was grateful for being able to grow up in a free city like Hong Kong.

'He left us a lot of wisdom and classics. We can enjoy his songs, but his wisdom ... there's still a lot waiting for us to discover.'