Allen Lee Peng-fei, founding chairman of the pro-business Liberal Party, has announced his retirement as television host at the age of 78, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
His show, Legco Review, is one of the longest-running public affairs programs of RTHK. Since its debut in April 1986, the program has been airing weekly, focusing on news and developments about the Legislative Council.
The veteran politician turned to the mass media after he stepped down as Liberal Party chairman in 1998, taking up many posts as radio and TV program host.
Lee has been a dedicated and outspoken democrat. He quit as delegate to the National People’s Congress in 2004, saying that he had been under pressure not to speak openly.
On the last episode of Legco Review, Lee said he is saddened that Hong Kong’s self-governance and “high degree of autonomy”, which the Chinese government has promised to maintain until 2047, have been facing great challenges from the “overall jurisdiction” that some officials claim the Chinese government enjoys.
He also warned that the divisiveness in society is “unprecedented” and detrimental to the future of Hong Kong.
Lee believes that it is Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s vital political mission to heal such divisions, adding that she is capable of the role and he hopes the Chinese government will not to hinder her action.
But Lee agrees that Lam can’t save the day on her own. “She should devolve the decision-making to her subordinates,” he said, as he blasted her cabinet members for lacking a common political ideal.
On the other hand, he encouraged all political parties to improve communications with the Hong Kong leader.
Lee had been a Legco member since 1978 when Hong Kong was still a British colony. Lee remembers that at the time, political parties could still cooperate on some issues despite their criticisms of each other.
Martin Lee Chu-ming, founding chair of the Democratic Party, and Jasper Tsang Yok-sing, founder of the city’s biggest pro-Beijing party, the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress, attended Lee’s last show.
Martin Lee described him as a straight talker who often disregarded the Liberal Party’s stance as he wanted to give his views to the public honestly.
Tsang said he is the most pro-democracy politician among those coming from the business sector.
Allen Lee was an industrialist who started his political career in 1978 when the then-governor of Hong Kong, Murray MacLehose, appointed him to the Legislative Council at the age of 38, making him the youngest appointee at that time.
In 1986, Governor Edward Youde appointed him to the Executive Council, making him one of the few politicians who became members of both the Executive and Legislative Councils.
As one of the most respected local politicians, Allen Lee witnessed the Sino-British negotiations over Hong Kong’s future after 1997.
He resigned from the Executive Council along with other members when the last governor Chris Patten assumed office in 1992 and aligned with China against Patten’s rapid democratic reform.
In 1993 he established the Liberal Party from Co-operative Resources Centre with members including Ronald Arculli, Peggy Lam, Miriam Lau, and Rita Fan.
After losing his seat in the first post-handover Legco election in 1998, he resigned his chairmanship of the party and was succeeded by James Tien Pei-chun, a local entrepreneur.
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