Lau Nai-keung, a veteran politician who advocated Hong Kong’s democratic reunification with China in the 1980s, died on Wednesday after a long battle with cancer. He was 71.
Choy So-yuk, a Hong Kong deputy to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee and a close friend of Lau’s, said the outspoken pro-establishment figure was diagnosed with cancer more than a decade ago and had since been undergoing chemotherapy and had surgery several times, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Professor Wong Yuk-shan, president of the Open University of Hong Kong and a member of Beijing’s Basic Law Committee, which Lau had joined since 2007, said Lau looked a bit weak when he last met him about three weeks ago.
In 2006, Lau revealed in an article that a tumor had been found in his right kidney, which was later removed by an operation.
Lau graduated in the 1970s from the University of Hong Kong, where he was an active leader of the student movement and an editor of Undergrad, the campus journal of the school’s student union.
In the early 1980s, before the Sino-British negotiations, Lau founded the Meeting Point, a local group that called for a “democratic handover”, which meant Hong Kong should reunite with China while retaining its democratic system.
The group merged with the United Democrats in 1994 and became today’s Democratic Party.
Lau had long been seen as a hardline pro-Beijing figure, writing newspaper articles criticizing the pan-democratic camp and foreign powers.
After Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor won the chief executive election in March 2017, Lau said Lam owed her victory to Beijing’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong.
While many in political circles considered Lau a controversial figure, Choy said he was actually forthright and very concerned about the country and people, although his words were sometimes twisted.
Former transport and housing secretary Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, who used to be a member of the Meeting Point, told HKEJ that he admired Lau for never having faltered in his love for the nation and the Chinese race, although he was sometimes critical of the Communist Party.
Albert Ho Chun-yan, chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China and former chairman of the Democratic Party, said he had known Lau since the time he studied at HKU.
Ho said he believed Lau’s advocacy of democratic handover was not sincere, and that he only aimed for reunification with democracy used as a cover.
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