Social activist and veteran politician Elsie Tu passed away on Tuesday morning at the United Christian Hospital. She was 102.
Born in Newcastle in 1913, Tu was a teacher in the UK before she moved to Hong Kong in 1951 as a missionary. She started the Mu Kuang English School in 1954 and was a member of the Urban Council between 1963 and 1995, and the Legislative Council between 1988 and 1995.
Tu was appointed as a HKSAR Basic Law Consultative Committee member in 1985, and as a Hong Kong Affairs Adviser in 1994 by the Beijing government. In 1995, she lost both her Urban Council and Legislative Council seat to Democratic Party co-founder Szeto Wah. Between 1997 and 1998, she was appointed a member of the Provisional Legislative Council.
Tu received the Grand Bauhinia Medal in 1997 from former Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa – she was one of the first recipients of the highest honour in Hong Kong after the handover.
In 2002, she wrote an open letter supporting the legislation of the controversial Basic Law Article 23 – the national security law. And, in 2007, she supported lawmaker Regina Ip in a Legislative Council by-election, endorsing her with the statement that she is an upright and earnest person.
Known for her work with the poor and opposition towards corruption and colonialism, and fluent in Cantonese, she became increasingly supportive of Beijing in her later years.
She was married to Andrew Tu, her long-term partner in her education work. Andrew Tu died in 2001, aged 90.