Harry Fang - 'a towering figure in both public and private life'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 September, 2009, 12:00am

Family and friends of Professor Sir Harry Fang Sin-yang packed a Causeway Bay chapel yesterday to pay their respects to the city's 'father of rehabilitation'.

The memorial service at Christ the King Chapel started at 10am with prayers led by Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun.

Fang's niece Anson Chan Fang On-sang, delivering her eulogy, described her uncle as 'a towering figure in both his public life and his private life'.

'He was a man of many parts - devoted husband and loving father to his extended family, a distinguished medical practitioner, a visionary pioneer and leader in rehabilitation services, an upright statesman and politician, and a humanitarian who worked tirelessly for the disadvantaged and disabled,' the former chief secretary and legislator said.

Fang, a devout Catholic, died of respiratory complications on August 24 at the age of 86. He had been in hospital since suffering a stroke six years ago.

He was a world-renowned rehabilitation pioneer, working as a professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Hong Kong.

He also co-founded the Hong Kong Society for Rehabilitation and was the first Asian president of Rehabilitation International.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr York Chow Yat-ngok, in his eulogy, said Fang was 'an international giant and Hong Kong legend in this regard'. Chow said Fang was a role model to everyone associated with him. Fang, he said, had devoted his whole life to helping the disabled overcome challenges, allowing them to have productive and active lives and be accepted by the community.

'His words, his stories, his sense of humour, his optimism and his smile will always stay in our hearts,' Chow said.

Fang, who served on the Legislative Council and Executive Council, was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 2001.

Former Liberal Party leader Allen Lee Peng-fei, a colleague of Fang in Legco, recalled the time he first met Fang in 1978. 'I was a bit nervous [as a new member of Legco] but I saw this man [Fang] with a very broad smile coming to me ... He introduced himself as Harry Fang and I felt very relaxed immediately because of his friendliness.'

Fang's body was interred at the Catholic Cemetery in Happy Valley.

Pallbearers included former Exco convenor Sir Sze-yuen Chung, former Legco president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, retired chief justice Sir Ti-liang Yang and the vice-chancellor of the University of Hong Kong, Professor Tsui Lap-chee.