Yeung Kwong

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Yeung Kwong
Traditional Chinese 楊光
Simplified Chinese 杨光

Yeung Kwong, GBM (1926 – 16 May 2015) was a Hong Kong Communist trade unionist and activist. He was leader of the Hong Kong 1967 Leftist Riots against the British rule in Hong Kong.[1]

Trade unionist career[edit]

Born in 1926, Yeung became a member of the Hong Kong Tramways Workers Union in 1948 and led strikes by Hong Kong Tramway's fare conductors the following year.

He served as chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), the largest pro-Communist labour union in Hong Kong, from 1962 to 1980, and then its president between 1980 and 1988. From 1973 to 1987, he was a local deputy to the National People's Congress.[2]

1967 Leftist Riots[edit]

During the Hong Kong 1967 Leftist Riots, which was inspired by the mainland China's Cultural Revolution and escalated from a labour dispute at a plastic-flower factory in San Po Kong, Yeung served as director of the Hong Kong and Kowloon Committee for Anti-Hong Kong British Persecution Struggle. Thousands were injured and 51 died, 15 of whom were killed in bombings planted by the Leftists.[2]

Grand Bauhinia Medal controversy[edit]

Nominated by the FTU, then Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal, the highest honour in Hong Kong, to Yeung for his "outstanding contribution to the labour movement and labour welfare in Hong Kong and for his dedicated community service" in 2001.[2]

The award ceremony was held on 13 October 2001, and controversy immediately rose after the announcement, with many people believing that Tung, who was seeking re-election at the time, was pandering to the FTU, which is an important bloc of vote in the unique Chief Executive election system in Hong Kong.[1] Yeung had in 1996 and 2002 sat on the Election Committee that elected Tung as Chief Executive. Some critics asserted that Yeung was not suitable for the highest honour of the land. Critics argued the event was a symbolic gesture for approval of the 1967 riot.[1] Criticisms were also from victims of the riots and officials responsible for putting down the unrest, but the government declined to say if Yeung's "contributions" included what he did during the protests.[2]

"It is not a matter of who encouraged this kind of action [bomb attacks]. Oppression will result in popular revolt," Yeung responded. And he said deaths and injuries were inevitable in the struggle when asked if he felt sorry for the victims.[2] Similar protests also occurred outside his funeral on 14 June, 2015, where protesters brought champagne to celebrate his death, and also pineapples (a metaphor and Cantonese slang for bombs and grenades), and also cursed him to go to hell.[3]

Death[edit]

In the morning of 16 May 2015, Yeung died at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin after he underwent a heart operation last year. Acting Chief Executive Carrie Lam sent her condolences to Yeung's family and praised the man for his contributions to the labour movement.[2]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Chan, Ming K. So, Alvin Y. White III, Lynn T. (2002). Crisis and Transformation in China's Hong Kong. M.E. Sharpe; ISBN 0-7656-1000-0.
  2. ^ a b c d e f So, Peter. 2015. "Veteran unionist Yeung Kwong, ringleader in 1967 Hong Kong riots, dies at 89", South China Morning Post, 16 May 2015,
  3. ^ Yeung Kwong funeral sparked protests

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Lee Sang
Chairman of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions
1962–1980
Succeeded by
Poon Kwong-wai
Preceded by
Chan Yaocai
President of the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions
1980–1988
Succeeded by
Lee Chark-tim
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Li Ka-shing
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Succeeded by
Elsie Leung
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal