Founding member of Hong Kong’s Democratic Party, Martin Lee, appears to have been airbrushed from history at an exhibition to mark the 25th anniversary of Basic Law – despite being a member of the document’s drafting committee.

The exhibition, organised by Hong Kong’s Chinese state-owned newspaper Wen Wei Po, includes a display showing members of the drafting committee.

But while fellow committee member Szeto Wah – who was appointed and left at the same time as Lee – is shown on the wall of fame, the barrister is nowhere to be seen, according to Ming Pao.

The omission raised eyebrows during a recent visit by LegCo President Jasper Tsang. When a reporter flagged up the issue, Tsang exclaimed: “That’s strange. Is that true?”

Szeto Wah (left) and Martin Lee (right). Lee was "deleted" from history.
Szeto Wah (left) and Martin Lee (right). Lee appears to have been airbrushed from history at a Basic Law exhibition. Photo: Wikimedia Commons via laihiuyeung ryanne.

Tsang cited a book signed by Deng Xiaoping which explained the history of Basic Law, showing that both men were members of the committee. He said he believed the display should have mention both Lee and Szeto – or both should have been left omitted.

Wang Shucheng, chairman of Wen Wei Po, said during a speech to mark the opening of the exhibition that due to constraints of the exhibition site, certain content could not be shown.

The assembly Hong Kong after Tiananmen Square crackdown.
The assembly in Hong Kong after Tiananmen Square crackdown. Photo: 1989年的傳真.

Lee has often been criticised by Wen Wei Po, which has described him as a “traitor” for his ties with US politicians. He met senators including Nancy Pelosi, Sherrod Brown and Bill Burns in Washington DC last year.

On Thursday, the newspaper accused him of receiving orders from the US to recruit young student leaders to organise pro-democracy occupy protest.

Lawmakers Lee and Szeto were appointed members of the Basic Law drafting committee in 1985.

After the Tiananmen Square crackdown four years later, the pair announced that they would stop participating in the drafting process temporarily, according to Szeto’s memoirs. Months later China announced they had been sacked.

Szeto Wah died in 2011.

The Photography Exhibition Celebrating the 25th Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Basic Law started on Thursday in Hong Kong City Hall and runs until Sunday.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.