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Hilton Cheong-Leen (張有興) First Chinese “Mayor” of Hong Kong

Authors: Hilton Cheong-Leen, Gary Cheung, and Oliver Chou

Hilton Cheong-LeenGary Cheung (South China Morning Post, Hong Kong), and Oliver Chou (Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong) (2022).

Hilton Cheong-Leen was a legend in Hong Kong’s history. It is no coincidence that his 34 years of public service witnessed the city’s historic transformation from a regional entrepot to an international financial centre. He was a key player in that historic process and a visionary too in bringing about changes in a wide range of issues from politics to livelihood. He held firm in the belief that traditional Chinese values were applicable in the modern world and Hong Kong was a case he strived hard to prove the East-West compatibility. A businessman and a baritone, he knew the art of delivering ideas and principles. He upheld core values such as civic rights, wider political participation and social justice not through slogans but solid advice and practice in constitutional reform, education, hygiene, housing, transportation, arts, to name just a few.

Based on original research and primary sources, including interviews with Cheong-Leen during his last years, this book covers his early years in British Guyana and his subsequent public service as lawmaker, urban councillor, plus a dozen of titles. The account documents the many footprints he left in the city’s phenomenal economic takeoff since the 1970s. His contribution had once earned him the title as the “Mayor” of Hong Kong when he was elected in 1981 as the first Chinese chairman of the Urban Council since its inception almost a century ago.

Co-authored by award-winning writers Gary Cheung and Oliver Chou, Cheong-Leen’s memoir provides a vivid account of his journey as a member of the global Chinese diaspora in the 20th Century, and details of his three-decade long public service. It is an extraordinary story of a man whose paths took him through relocation, war, settlement, hard work and success.