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Executive Council of Hong Kong

Son of Hong Kong’s ‘godfather of local politics’ shares personal memories of the late Chung Sze-yuen, as city’s leaders bid final farewell

  • Current and former chief executives Carrie Lam, Tung Chee-wah and Leung Chun-ying are among pallbearers at Friday ceremony
  • Chung’s son, Gilbert, writes about ‘strict but caring’, ‘demanding but considerate’ father in memorial booklet
PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 2:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 November, 2018, 2:50pm

As Hong Kong bid a final farewell to Chung Sze-yuen, the “godfather of local politics”, on Friday, a more personal voice joined the stream of public tributes that had poured forth since the news of his death broke.

Sharing his loving memories of his father, Chung’s son Gilbert said: “I can understand why – because together with his incisiveness and drive in everything he does, he was strict but caring at home, and demanding but considerate at home.”

His recollections were included in a memorial booklet handed out to guests and the media at the funeral. In its pages, Chung was described as a “man with a vision as wide as the ocean”.

Dozens of political heavyweights, including three of the city’s current and former leaders, were present at Friday’s ceremony.

Gilbert wrote that he was fortunate and proud to have had a well-respected father, and that he would continue with the two principles Chung kept reminding his family to live by: “Don’t be greedy. Treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.”

Remembering the Sir of Sirs: Chung Sze-yuen’s insight and integrity

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor and her predecessors Tung Chee-wah and Leung Chun-ying were among the pallbearers, together with former justice minister Wong Yan-lung, Liberal Party founder Allen Lee Peng-fei, Basic Law Committee vice-chairman Maria Tam Wai-chu, former senior official John Chan Cho-chak and former appointed Legislative Council member Steve Poon Kwok-lim.

The service was closed to the media and the public, with Lam, Lee and former minister of health Dr Ko Wing-man presenting eulogies.

Chung, the top non-official member of the Executive Council during British rule and its first convenor after Hong Kong’s return to China, died last Wednesday, aged 101.

After his death, tributes by figures from across the political spectrum poured in, most of them lauding his efforts on the city’s behalf in the run-up to the 1997 handover.

A line of political heavyweights, including the city’s former delegate to Beijing’s top legislature Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, former judicial chief Elsie Leung Oi-sie and housing minister Frank Chan Fan paid their last respects at the Hong Kong Funeral Home in North Point.

Former justice chief Wong Yan-lung remembers ‘godfather of local politics’ Chung Sze-yuen

“He was equipped with strong analytical power and a cool head. He was objective, and able to see things near and far through,” Maria Tam, who also took part in the Sino-British handover talks of the 1980s said. “His vision is worth us learning from.”

Former justice chief Wong, who is close to Chung’s family, wrote in an article for the Post that Chung had faced immense political pressure from different sides during the turbulent times in the 1980s, but he stuck to what he believed in and placed the interests of Hong Kong and its people at the forefront at all times.

Tam Yiu-chung, the city’s sole delegate to Beijing’s top legislature, praised Chung as having led a consummate life, earning respect from all sides.

Michelle Law, in her 50s, a member of the public who lived nearby, came to pay her final respects to the man she described as one of “the only few who wholeheartedly contributed to Hong Kong”.

“My late father respected him very much. I feel obliged to come and pay our tribute to him,” she said as she stood outside the funeral home during the service.

Chung Sze-yuen, the voice of Hongkongers in the British colonial corridors of power

The ceremony was understood to be non-religious, and the family kept the hearse simple, with minimal floral arrangements. Gilbert, holding a portrait of his father, sat in the vehicle alongside his two sons.

After the service, the hearse left the funeral home for Cape Collinson Crematorium.

A vigil had been held on Thursday, with rows of wreaths from central government units and members of Hong Kong’s political and social elite lining the funeral hall.

Chung made his last public appearance at a lunch hosted by Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam at Government House to celebrate his 101st birthday. He died two weeks later.