【明報專訊】SZETO WAH, whom people called Uncle Wah, has died of illness. He lived seventy-nine years. Mr Szeto played a decisive role in Hong Kong's social movements, democratisation and efforts towards the vindication of June 4 and China's democratisation. People with different stances may look at his achievements differently. However, in our view, he can worthily be called a true patriot. We do not believe many Hong Kong citizens would differ about that.
Uncle Wah led labour and social movements, was in politics and did much in relation to June 4. He stood up to those in power throughout his life. He achieved results by developing organisations and uniting with the majority of people. No other Hong Kong politician has his calibre or stature.
In the 1970s, the Hong Kong British authorities ran the territory autocratically. They tightly controlled society and vigorously suppressed labour and social movements. Szeto Wah then led non-graduate teachers in a strike for reasonable pay. He became a labour movement leader. That was the first time Hong Kong people had compelled by virtue of organised forces the Hong Kong British authorities to make concessions. That set an example of social movements.
Twenty-two years ago, Uncle Wah and Martin Lee resigned from the Basic Law Drafting Committee and founded the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, which has called for the vindication of June 4 and worked for China's democratisation. He chose to cope with the Chinese Communist Party of China, which, much mightier than the Hong Kong British authorities, was not to be trifled with. Since Hong Kong's reversion to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, Uncle Wah, as a leader of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China, criticised the central government with the SAR government as his shield. As the central authorities' influence on Hong Kong became more and more nearly total, Uncle Wah came under such huge pressure that even others felt it.
How to look at June 4 is a matter of cardinal principle. Whatever the central government may say about it, it is unacceptable to any conscionable people to kill defenceless compatriots with such brutality. Though those in power have vigorously tried to prevent people from remembering it, the tragedy, which aroused the indignation of both man and god, has not been forgotten because Uncle Wah had persevered and withstood enormous pressure. In fact, Uncle Wah stood up to those in power throughout the past four decades.
Uncle Wah had huge and profound influence on society not only because of his noble and stainless character. Never was he corrupted by riches or honours, swerved by poverty or humbleness or brought to heel by force or threat. He was always true to his cause of fighting against high-handedness. He left his successors rich political assets - well-organised forces for fighting for rights and achieving goals.
The most important reason why Uncle Wah had made the Professional Teachers' Union and the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China successful was that he, honest and upright, lived a noble, spotless life. Some pro-democracy politicians tended to throw their weight about after they had become legislators. Uncle Wah once severely criticised them, saying they had got "the legislator disease". Uncle Wah's integrity and his desire to serve the public inspired those who worked with him. That was why he had brought together his team of united, selfless fighters. Uncle Wah is no more. His behests have yet to be carried out. In our view, whether what he had begun will continue and grow hinges on whether his successors will uphold the fine tradition he had established.