Chung Sze-yuen, dubbed “the Godfather of Hong Kong politics”, died on Wednesday at the age of 101.
His death came just days after his birthday luncheon at the Government House on Nov. 3.
It is understood that it was Chung’s idea to have his birthday bash held at the Government House this year. And so it was Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor who granted his wish.
It was revealed that it was Chung himself who finalized the guest list for his birthday party, which turned out to be his last.
Back in 1997, shortly after the handover, the then Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa wanted to host a banquet at Government House to celebrate the 80th birthday of Chung, who was at the time the newly appointed convener of the Executive Council. Tung wanted to pay tribute to his decades of devotion to public service and huge contributions to society.
However, news about the proposed party came to light a bit earlier than Tung would have wanted, and provoked a backlash in society. Some seniors, aged 80 and above, even staged a protest against the “special treatment” for Chung.
Amid public pressure, Tung eventually called off the proposed birthday party for Chung.
So it wasn’t until this year that Chung’s wish of celebrating his birthday at the Government House finally came true, thanks to Lam.
Shelley Lee Lai-kuen, former permanent secretary for home affairs who helped in arranging the event, told media that even though the birthday luncheon was held at the Government House, it was the chief executive who paid for everything.
She was apparently trying to avoid any misunderstanding that the government used public funds to celebrate Chung’s birthday.
Lam was also present at Chung’s birthday banquet last year, which was held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai.
And judging from the wording of her statement on the passing of Chung, Lam appeared to know Chung quite well.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 15
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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