Sunday, 2 January 2011

Passionate Democrat Passes On

Early this afternoon Szeto Wah passed away. He was 79.

There had been a death watch in the last few weeks as he was deteriorating from lung cancer.

But people in the pan democratic camp didn't want him to leave and still made him the figurehead leader of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Movements in China until his death.

He started his career as a teacher and primary school principal, and then became politically active by organizing the Hong Kong Professional Teachers' Union into one of the territory's most powerful unions.

But when June 4 happened in 1989, Szeto was greatly affected by what happened in Tiananmen Square along with most of not all Hong Kongers. He even helped some of the Tiananmen protesters escape China, for which people like Wang Dan and Wu'er Kaixi are eternally grateful.

Szeto formed the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Democratic Movements in China and every June 4 it hosts a candlelight vigil in Victoria Park demanding the Chinese government apologize for its actions. The party is a key advocate for human rights activists in China and voices its demands for justice and democracy.

He never married, and his term of endearment Wah Sook, or Uncle Wah shows how long he has been active in fighting for what he believes in, as it has led to the establishment of other political parties pushing for democracy, as well as encouraging the public to be more aware of their rights.

Szeto was a founding member of the United Democrats of Hong Kong, which later became the Democratic Party.

However last year he was greatly criticized for backing the Democratic Party's decision to vote for limited reforms for Hong Kong's half-elected legislature that were endorsed by Beijing.

Nevertheless, his achievements greatly overshadow his faults and will be sorely missed.

1 comment:

  1. we mourn the passing of a true man, humble and yet arrogant, for his love of people, passion for a democratic china. i miss his articles appearing in mingpao every week. luckily he left behind a legacy which will not perish- his volumes of writings. it will stimulate generations of peace loving democrats in hong kong and hopefully in china also.