A 600-strong committee comprising business tycoons, three former and serving Hong Kong leaders and incumbent and retired mainland Chinese officials has been set up to prepare for the funeral of late rural patriarch Lau Wong-fat. Lau, who died on July 23 at the age of 80 , was a political heavyweight in Hong Kong, with a wide network allowing him to navigate both local and mainland political circles. Lau Wong-fat – master politician who has left big shoes to fill He was head of the Heung Yee-kuk, which advises the government on rural affairs, for 35 years and was both a member of the city’s legislature and the Executive Council that provides advice on policy to Hong Kong’s leader. He was picked by Beijing in the 1980s to sit on a panel to draft the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, and also served on the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) – the country’s top political advisory body. An obituary published in several Chinese-language newspapers on Thursday revealed that a Buddhist funeral would be held next Thursday. Will Hong Kong’s Heung Yee Kuk rural powerhouse endure without ‘big brother’ Lau Wong-fat? Separate rituals will be held at the Heung Yee Kuk headquarters in Sha Tin, outside the Tin Hau temple in Tuen Mun and in Lau’s home village of Lung Kwu Tan before he is buried on a hillside site near the village. A memorial service will be held next Wednesday at the Hong Kong Funeral Home in North Point. The Heung Yee Kuk is opening a condolence book at its headquarters at 2pm on Friday. It will remain open until 5pm next Thursday for members of the public to leave messages. The membership of the funeral committee is a who’s who of political and business elites, as well as leaders of Hong Kong’s rural community. The honorary committee chiefs are two former chief executives – Tung Chee-hwa and Leung Chun-ying, who are now both CPPCC vice-chairmen – incumbent leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and Beijing liaison office director Zhang Xiaoming. Other big names include former National People’s Congress Standing Committee member Tsang Hin-chi, serving member Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai and tycoons Li Ka-shing, his son Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, Lee Shau-kee, Robert Ng, Peter Woo Kwong-ching and Victor Fung Kwok-king. Former liaison office representatives Zhou Nan, Gao Siren and Zhang Junsheng also sit on the committee. Other local personalities on the committee include Legislative Council president Andrew Leung Kwan-yuen, Executive Council convenor Bernard Chan, Hong Kong’s Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, former Monetary Authority chief executive Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, former chief secretary and now CPPCC Standing Committee member Henry Tang Yin-yen, Basic Law Committee vice-chairwoman Elsie Leung Oi-sie and former financial secretary John Tsang Chun-wah.