Ho Ming-sze, a former high-ranking Communist Party official in Hong Kong and a top adviser to late tycoon Henry Fok Ying-tung, died on Wednesday. He was 95.
Ho reportedly suffered a fall at home in Tuen Mun on Tuesday, and died a day after being admitted to hospital.
An influential figure who brought Hong Kong businessmen and China’s leader Deng Xiaoping together while the city was still under British rule in the 1970s. Ho later quit the party he had joined in 1939, in protest at the events in Tiananmen Square some 50 years later.
True to his outspoken nature, Ho condemned the crackdown as “bloody and unreasonable”, and emigrated to Canada soon after. His absence was short-lived, however, as he returned the following year at Fok’s behest.
Otto Lin Chui-chau, a former vice-president of the University of Science and Technologywho had known Ho since 1999, confirmed his friend’s death.
Born in Hong Kong in 1923, Ho travelled to Shenzhen in 1939 to join the anti-Japan guerilla forces, becoming a member of the Communist Party at the same time.
In 1957, he returned to the city of his birth to work for Xinhua, the news agency that served as Beijing’s de facto embassy in Hong Kong during British rule, and the predecessor to the present-day liaison office.
He was promoted to lead the United Front Work Department of Beijing’s political arm in the city in 1978, and retired in 1988.
Ho’s promotion coincided with the process of reform in China, which was gradually beginning to open itself up to the outside world. Ho arranged for the likes of Fok, Li Ka-shing and Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, to meet Deng Xiaoping, and subsequently helped them to invest on the mainland.
The Tiananmen crackdown the year after his retirement brought an end to his half a century association with the Communist Party, and he announced his resignation in an advertisement placed in a Chinese-language newspaper, the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
“The Communist Party suppressed its people in a bloody and unreasonable manner,” the advert read. “It goes against the principle of the party which vows to fight for the betterment of the Chinese people.”
In an interview with the Post in 2016, Ho lamented Beijing’s continued failure to win the hearts and minds of many Hongkongers, suggesting political movements launched by the Communist Party scared them off.
Fok persuaded Ho, who was also deputy secretary general of Xinhua’s Hong Kong branch before his retirement, to return to the city to help him develop Nansha, a technology development zone south of Guangzhou.
Fok died of cancer aged 83 in 2006.
Lin, who helped Fok develop the Nansha Information Technology Park in Panyu, Guangzhou, from the late 1990s, said a love for China and a vision for the Pearl River Delta were Ho’s hallmark.
“It is also the common bond between Ho and Mr Henry Fok,” Lin said. “Together they had dedicated their time and resources in the last 25 years to promote a close collaboration between Hong Kong, Guangdong and Macau.
“They foresaw technology and innovation to be the driving force of a knowledge economy.”
Lin described Ho as a man of courage, citing his fight against Japan during the second world war, and his expression of sympathy for students who took part in the pro-democracy movement of 1989.
“Through all his life, he spoke up against corruption and injustice in many different aspects,” Lin said. “The boldness brought him praise, and not surprisingly, controversies.”