Elsie Tu will be missed in the fight for social justice

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 December, 2015, 10:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 December, 2015, 10:00am

Both John Winston Lennon and Elsie Tu passed away on the same date, December 8. John Lennon was shot dead in America at the age of 40 years in 1980. Elsie Tu died at the age of 102 in a Hong Kong hospital from pneumonia in 2015. They had a number of things in common.

Both were born in Northern England, Tu in Newcastle and Lennon in Liverpool. Both were from working-class families and both died overseas. Both had a huge social conscience and were against war, and both, despite Lennon’s vast wealth, identified with the working class. Lennon wrote the classic songs Working Class Hero, Give Peace a Chance and Happy Xmas (War is Over).

Lennon was named after a politician, Tu entered politics and tirelessly campaigned for the disadvantaged in Hong Kong. Tu disliked colonialism and disliked Chris Patten even more. She saw him as a fraud who loved himself more than the people he was supposed to be serving. Tu disliked “one world government” and its politics of war and continued manufacture of global crises requiring “one world government” solutions. She wrote to Tony Blair many times asking him to resign [as Britain’s prime minister] over his illegal war in Iraq. She received no reply.

Tu’s body was old but her mind remained sharp to the end. I will miss the afternoon cups of tea and biscuits and chats with her about the crappy state of global politics and where it is heading. Her views on politics are well reflected in Lennon’s song Gimme some Truth, which contains the lyrics:

I’m sick and tired of hearing things, from uptight short-sighted narrow-minded hypocrites / All I want is the truth / I’ve had enough of reading things, by neurotic, psychotic, pig-headed politicians / All I want is the truth / Just give me some truth

In today’s upside-down world, both Lennon and Tu are missed.

Dr Robert Hanson, Tseung Kwan O