Former executive council convenor Chung Sze-yuen has died aged 101 years. He was commonly known as the “Godfather of Hong Kong politics.”

Chung Sze-yuen at his birthday party in 2017. Photo: Citizen News.

A source told HKFP that Chung passed away at 2am on Wednesday.

He held his 100th birthday celebration at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre last November. Guests included Chief Executive Carrie Lam, former chief secretary Anson Chan, former justice secretary Elsie Leung, Wong Yan-lung, former financial secretary Henry Tang, among others.

Also last year, he was awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal, Hong Kong’s highest honour.

Chung retired from politics in June 1999. Leung Chun-ying succeeded him as executive council convenor until he resigned to run for chief executive in October 2011.

Tributes pour in

Anson Chan said via a spokesperson that she was saddened by Chung’s death. She said she celebrated Chung’s birthday with him earlier this month and she has offered her deepest condolences to his family.

New People’s Party lawmaker Regina Ip, a former security secretary, said she mourned the sad news. Ip said that, recently, many leading figures in various fields had passed away, representing the end of an era.

She said that Chung was an outstanding industrialist and political figure who worked hard to protect Hong Kong’s special way of life during the Sino-British negotiations in the 1980s.

Ip also said Chung was principled, had leadership skills and was polite, and it was difficult to find another Executive Council member to be as good as Chung.

Former Democratic Party chair Emily Lau said she was studying at the London School of Economics in 1982 and 1983 when she met Chung a few times, both as student and as a freelancer for TVB news. She said Chung, at the time, was fighting for Hong Kong to remain under British rule but to no avail. Lau said he should have fought for more democracy.

“With that political situation, he did what he believed he should do for the good of Hong Kong, but I did not agree with him – he should have fought more for us,” Lau told HKFP. “We hoped for democracy – the British would not give it to us, and the Executive Council did not fight, neither before nor after the Handover.”

Chung’s children were present as he passed away, as they had returned to Hong Kong for his birthday.

Kris Cheng

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.