RIP Elsie Tu: Hong Kong Activist, Politician & AMWF “Grandma”

Elsie Tu and Andrew Tu in 1995

Last week, the world collectively mourned the passing of Elsie Tu on December 8, 2015 at age 102, a woman who fought for social justice, became a renowned politician in pre-1997 Hong Kong, and ultimately left a lasting impact on the region. Some dubbed her “the real spirit of Hong Kong.” But did you know that Elsie Tu, who was originally from England, was also married to Andrew Tu for over 25 years, making her one of our AMWF grandmothers as well?

Here’s a brief background on Elsie Tu from her Wikipedia page:

Born and raised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, Tu moved to Hong Kong in 1951 following a period as a missionary in China. She became known for her strong antipathy towards colonialism and corruption, as well as for her work for the underprivileged. She fought for gay rights, better housing, welfare services, playgrounds, bus routes, hawker licenses and innumerable other issues and her campaigning is credited with leading to the establishment of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) in 1974.

In their remembrance of Elsie Tu, the South China Morning Post called her a “veteran Hong Kong politician and champion of the underprivileged”:

Tu, a former Urban Councillor and lawmaker regarded as a pro-Beijing figure, was well-known for her outspoken manner. The centenarian still actively turned in articles to newspapers to criticise government policies she deemed unfair or inadequate….

Turning a brand new page of her life, she met the late Andrew Tu Hsueh-kwei. The pair co-founded Mu Kuang English School in 1954.

Theirs was a long-blossoming relationship. It was not until 1985 that their friendship led to marriage – 30 years after the two teachers met. She was 71, her husband 63….

Remembering her late father’s teaching of helping those in need, Tu decided to delve into politics, in 1963.

Elsie Tu became a household name after she won election to Urban Council in 1963….

In the 1970s, Tu decided to take on the city’s corruption.

Her consistent effort was one of the forces that drove the colonial government to set up an unprecedented department, the Independent Commission against Corruption, in 1974.

Wow. The South China Morning Post also has a wonderful article detailing her extraordinary life and achievements in photos.

Elsie Tu’s life inspires me deeply. Here is a woman who devoted herself to serving others. She truly wanted to make the world a better place. As this article noted, “Each year she made the same very public wish: “We can have a world at peace instead of all wanting to fight.”

Let’s take a moment to remember this incredible woman. Thank you, Elsie Tu, for all that you have done, and may you rest in peace.

P.S.: Thanks to Susan Blumberg-Kason for tipping me off to this news.

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24 thoughts on “RIP Elsie Tu: Hong Kong Activist, Politician & AMWF “Grandma”

  • December 14, 2015 at 7:36 am
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    What an extraordinary and long life! Her generosity is an inspiration to us all.

    Let’s add our voices to her yearly wish for peace and an end to fighting.

    Reply
  • December 14, 2015 at 7:09 pm
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    Yes she was truly inspirational, especially with regard to setting up ICAC. That was instrumental in cleaning up the police and many organisations within the public sector. People used to bribe the police to not to get detained or bribing public sector workers to get things done.

    Unfortunately, with the current and past few administrations, things are moving backwards. Especially with regards to Chief executive and high ranking official taking bribes in favour of various land development. Of course, freedom and democracy are going backwards as well.

    We need someone as inspirational like her to move HK forward again. maybe someone who will go against the communists and push for a referendum for self determination (i.e. either going for independence or reinstated HK as part of the British overseas territory like the Falkland Island or Gibraltar)

    Reply
    • December 16, 2015 at 1:12 pm
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      “maybe someone who will go against the communists and push for a referendum for self determination (i.e. either going for independence or reinstated HK as part of the British overseas territory like the Falkland Island or Gibraltar)”

      LMAO…one of the funnier posts I’ve ever read here.

      Reply
      • December 17, 2015 at 5:11 pm
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        l o l ! The guy must be smoking pot or something. Or maybe he’s from Mars l o l !

        Reply
        • December 24, 2015 at 1:29 am
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          Ha, ha…. I do not think Phil Chung was serious when he advocated the independence of H.K. or the return to U.K. as colony. The Chinese in H.K. do not want to separate from the Motherland as an independent country. They just want more autonomy, less corruption, and democracy. Phil must be joking!!!!!!

          Reply
    • December 17, 2015 at 9:36 pm
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      @Alex Lee…yes, he has been smoking something or probably just delusional. I for one will support that if the racist white Brits led by the head racist white Brit Theresa Mae agrees to a two way street where if the Brits get unfettered access to Hong Kong jobs they should reciprocate. From what I remember that was the sticking point back in the 1970s. Too many Chinese faces in Britain was too much for the white racist Brits who want a one way street. It played a major role in handing Hong Kong back to China.

      Reply
  • December 16, 2015 at 10:06 am
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    Thanks so much for the shout-out and this lovely tribute to Elsie Tu. She faced criticism in recent years for supporting pro-Beijing politicians in Hong Kong, but her true legacy of working for the poor and fighting corruption will shine on for many, many decades.

    Reply
  • December 18, 2015 at 12:41 am
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    “We need someone as inspirational like her to move HK forward again. maybe someone who will go against the communists and push for a referendum for self determination (i.e. either going for independence or reinstated HK as part of the British overseas territory like the Falkland Island or Gibraltar)” — Phil Chung

    HAHAHAHHAAHHAHAHAHHAHAH — Rdm

    ——————-
    I was going to leave my comment, just with laughing.

    But then I thought it would be a cheap shot without contributing anything solid.

    And then I thought, well maybe time will tell us.

    And then I thought, well Phil has his own opinions.

    And then I thought, well it’s time to educate some people. It’s worth a try.

    And then I thought, well sometimes your effort might as well just be futile for some people.

    And then I thought, maybe I just laughed.

    And then I thought, well it would be a cheap shot.

    Well, at least I’ll give my cheap shot then.

    Recent UK election shows 5 million votes for UKIP, amounting to them being the 3rd most voted for party in the entire country and yet they get only 1 MP…

    what a joke.

    What I’d like to see is Shenzhen will take over HK, Jack Ma bought SCMP, and HK will be barren in decades, and Phil Chung will sell UK flags in HK land. That would be awesome.

    Reply
    • December 18, 2015 at 1:37 am
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      What I would like to see is if HKG goes back to the UK and the Brits flood the territory, the HKG Chinese flood UK and take over the white English neighborhoods and perhaps buy up all the Trump properties in Scotland too!

      Reply
    • December 18, 2015 at 9:54 am
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      @David……

      I thought for a second and then….what ? Phil selling the Union Jack………I doubt Phil would mind selling the Union Jack. He longs for the return of the Brits but we’re not living in the 19th century anymore. Forget about gunboat diplomacy. We’re in the 21st century. It fills me with pride as an ethnic Chinese living overseas that China is rapidly regaining her rightful place as a great power. Sadly there are still some Chinese who exhibit an inferiority complex as demonstrated by our dear Phil.

      Speaking of which……….

      http://entertainthis.usatoday.com/2014/05/15/why-chloe-bennet-changed-her-last-name/

      Well, Alexa Chung is doing very well by keeping her Chinese family name yet Chloe Wang had to become Chloe Bennet to………….

      I m really sorry Jecelyn. Looks like we’re diverging from the topic presented by you on dear Elsie Tu. But Phil…….oh well. What the heck.

      Reply
      • December 18, 2015 at 8:32 pm
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        Good response. I will still support it if they make Puerto Rico arrangements, where Puerto Ricans are US citizens who can vote in the US if they say move to Florida. All the white Brits want is a one way street. Give them an inch, they will take a mile.

        Reply
  • December 18, 2015 at 9:55 pm
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    @Alex Lee…people such as Elsie Tu very rare these days. On the Chinese side Grace Lee Boggs of Detroit comes to mind. She too lived till 100 and died in July of this year.

    Reply
  • December 24, 2015 at 1:36 am
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    @ David. Yes, it would be nice to see more Brits move to do business in H.K. Then it would show that H.K. is an attractive place to live, work and prosper. I am originally from H.K. and when I returned to visit in 2014, I loved it. It was clean, beautiful, the food was great, the people were decent, and it was very, very SAFE. And this was when I counted the number of AM/WF couples versus the number of WM/AF ones. What a lopsided victory for the WM/AF team!!!!! Some of those H.K. Chinese girls were quite cute. You should visit there sometime.

    Reply
  • December 29, 2015 at 1:18 am
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    @Fred. Guess you did not understand me. I said it would be ok for Brits to do business and work in Hong Kong as long as they afford the same opportunity to the Hong Kong non-whites, which they are not willing to do.

    Reply
    • December 29, 2015 at 11:14 am
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      @David
      China is buying up the UK. The utilities are now coming under Chinese control. Nuclear power plants, high speed train etc. Chinese banks are going to be major players in the City of London now that the Renmnbi is officially part of the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights basket of reserve curencies. It won’t be long before Chinese people say to the Brits “Sorry about that. It’s not that we have anything against British people. It’s just that we prefer our own people to run our operations because it’s our operations now, not yours anymore. We own these assets.” Can you can imagine the looks of the British when they hear that ?

      Reply
  • December 29, 2015 at 11:56 pm
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    “Sorry about that. It’s not that we have anything against British people. It’s just that we prefer our own people to run our operations because it’s our operations now, not yours anymore. We own these assets.”

    @Alex Lee…not in the UK. the government will not allow people to come in to work. But, perhaps by moving jobs back to China or through management from Hong Kong.

    Reply
  • December 30, 2015 at 9:49 am
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    @ David and Alex Lee.

    I agree with what you say. I think that with the ever increasing economic and financial clout of the PRC, HKSAR, and the ROC the Chinese will gain significant influence worldwide including in the U.K. I do not think that the Chinese will be able to dictate to the Brits how they should live though, but I think that the British gov’t will, however, contemplate and even consult the Chinese before making any big decisions.

    I think that perhaps David was right when many Brits believed that they could simply go to H.K., secure a high paying job, but not reciprocate. After all, H.K. was owned and governed by the U.K. for over 100 years and they were accustomed to such way of thinking. But times and mindsets are changing, and the Brits are increasingly willing to treat the Chinese as coequals and not as the “inferior” species which need civilization imposed on them by the Brits. For example, I just found out that one of my H.K. cousins named Marion who is in her 50’s has 2 daughters in their 20’s, all of whom are living in H.K. One daughter is dating an East Indian who had a British upbringing. The second daughter went to study in the U.K., could not find a job there, and is returning to H.K. to live and work. She (2nd daughter) has herself a real British boyfriend who was born, bred and raised in the U.K. He even agreed to move and live in H.K. also as he too had difficulty finding a job there.

    You see, David. If the Brits are willing to date us Chinese, I don’t think many have the old colonial mentality where they think of us a the inferior species which need the great guidance of the White man. Your mode of thinking is perhaps obsolete now.

    Fred

    Reply
    • January 1, 2016 at 7:37 am
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      “second daughter went to study in the U.K., could not find a job there, and is returning to H.K. to live and work.”

      Visa issues. She will likely have a problem even if she marries her boyfriend. Know a lot of Brits married to Asians stuck in Asia, particularly in Japan.

      “He even agreed to move and live in H.K. also as he too had difficulty finding a job there.”

      HSBC is thinking of moving back to Hong Kong and will take lot of Brits with them. The main reason they are moving is that they cannot get visas for qualified foreign workers. It harms the UK no doubt, but still a one way street.

      Happy New Year!!

      Reply
  • January 1, 2016 at 7:39 am
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    One more note…they do not have to think the Chinese are inferior. Even the most bigoted person in the world today, Donald Trump knows that. More like greed and selfishness. I want what is yours but I wont share mine.

    Reply
    • January 1, 2016 at 9:37 am
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      He who has the gold makes the rules, China has the gold and China makes the rules. Happy New Year !

      Reply
      • January 5, 2016 at 9:15 am
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        Happy New Year to you too.

        Reply
  • January 5, 2016 at 9:14 am
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    @ David.

    I was not aware that HSBC moved to the U.K. as its HQ and is now contemplating returning to HKSAR. I was not aware that the visa issue was forcing this decision. I just did a “google” search and discovered that you are correct about the contemplated move, but it did not state the main reason was the visa problem and foreign talent acquisition. The news said it was due to the high taxes. But thanks for letting me know. Talking to you enabled me to learn a few things which was quite different than your usual spewing of racism.

    I am certain that the nature of men (women included) is such that they want the lion’s share of the wealth and leave very little or nothing to the others.

    But you have to admit that British damsels are certainly pretty!!!!!!

    Happy New Year.

    Reply

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