Hundreds of Hong Kong’s political and business leaders bid their final farewells to Stanley Ho Hung-sun, patriarch of Asia’s largest casino empire and the “King of Gambling”, on Friday.
Ho’s family members and friends arrived at the Hong Kong Funeral Home in North Point on Friday morning to prepare for the funeral service.
Among them were his daughter Pansy Ho Chiu-king, his fourth wife Angela Leong On Kei, and former Hong Kong lawmaker Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, son of Henry Fok Ying-tung, a business tycoon and long-time friend of Ho who died in 2006.
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Ho, whose name was synonymous with Macau’s rise to overtake Las Vegas as the world’s gambling capital, died at the Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital in Happy Valley on May 26 at the age of 98. He is survived by three wives and 14 of his 16 children.
At Friday afternoon’s funeral service, Pansy Ho thanked at least 21 present and former leaders of China, including President Xi Jinping, Premier Li Keqiang, Vice-Premier Han Zheng, as well as former premiers Zhu Rongji and Wen Jiabao for sending eulogies. Many of them also sent wreaths.
Speaking at the service, former Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa, described Ho as “a good friend” and praised him for being a role model of entrepreneurs.
“As a young man, he went to Macau to start his own business, and became a well-respected businessman … who made extraordinary contributions to Macau and Hong Kong,” he said.
“I remember Ho saying, ‘I’d rarely accept defeats, I will do things until I got them done’. This is his philosophy and the key behind his colourful life and his pursuit of excellence.”
Timothy Fok, former chairman of the Hong Kong stock exchange Charles Lee Yeh-kwong and former Hong Kong University chief Professor Tsui Lap-chee also spoke.
After the service, Tung and Lee joined Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor as pallbearers in carrying Ho’s casket out of the funeral hall.
The other pallbearers were former Macau leader Edmund Ho Hau-wah, deputy chief of Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong Tan Tieniu, Macau financial chief Lei Wai-nong, as well as veteran Hong Kong developer Gordon Wu Ying-sheung and banker David Li Kwok-po. Stanley Ho will be buried at Chiu Yuen Cemetery on Mount Davis.
Outside the funeral home, about 30 people stood across the street to wait for the hearse to leave. Among them was a retiree who worked at Shun Tak Centre, headquarters of the Shun Tak Group founded by Ho.
“I felt like I should come and show my respects because he was my boss,” he said.
A 50-year-old woman who works in finance was also there to say goodbye.
“Stanley Ho is a highly respectable man and was always positive … He didn’t always have it easy, and now the city is going through such challenging times with the protests and now the coronavirus pandemic, everyone should learn to persevere like him,” she said.
At around 12.30pm, security staff at the funeral home alerted police in the area to an elderly man who was trying to enter without an invitation. Officers assisted by helping the man leave the scene, and no one was arrested or hurt, the force confirmed.
A public memorial was held at the funeral home on Thursday, and rows of wreaths of flowers from central government units, as well as members of the city’s political and social elite, lined the funeral hall.
A memorial booklet contained eulogies sent by various Beijing authorities, officials, Hong Kong academics and NGOs.
Among them were ones from the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department, the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), and Prince Edward, a member of the British royal family.
In its eulogy, the HKMAO praised Ho for being a “patriot who loved Hong Kong and Macau”.
“He has made important contributions to Hong Kong and Macau’s successful return to the motherland, the two city’s maintenance of prosperity and stability, as well as to the nation’s reform, opening up and modernisation,” it read.
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