Cheung Laid To Rest With Simple Ceremony
Hongkong Entertainment News
April 9th, 2003: With a simple ceremony that belied his flamboyant public personna, Leslie Cheung Kwok-Wing was laid to rest yesterday -- one week after he committed suicide by jumping off a balcony on the 24th floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
In addition to Cheung's family and Daffy Tong Hok-Tak, around two hundred of Cheung's friends and associates gathered yesterday morning at the Hong Kong Funeral Home for the private ceremony. Among those paying their last respects were: Lydia Shum Tin-Ha, Teresa Mo Shun-Kwun (Cheung's first love), Derek Yee Tung-Sing, Brigitte Lin (Lam Ching-Ha), Cherie Chung Cho-Hung, Chow Yun-Fat and his wife Jasmine, Peter Chan Ho-Sun and Sandra Ng Kwun-Yu, Alan Tang Kwong-Wing, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Carina Lau Ka-Ling, Tsui Hark, Jacky Cheung Hok-Yau and his wife May Lo Mei-Mei, James Wong Jim, Anita Mui Yim-Fong, Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung, Dicky Cheung Wai-Kin, Faye Wong, Ti Lung, Karen Mok Man-Wai, Sammo Hung Kam-Bo, Stephen Tung Wai, John Shum Kin-Fan and his wife Shallin Tse Ling, Stanley Kwan Kam-Pang, lyricist Lin Xi (Lam Jik) and Aaron Kwok Fu-Sing.
The memorial service for Cheung was not based on any religious rites and consisted simply of a handful of eulogies by Cheung's twin nieces, Jacky Cheung Hok-Yau, James Wong Jim and Tsui Hark. A biography of Cheung's life was also read while a highlight reel, cut by Vincent Kuk Tak-Chiu, played in the background.
Cheung's nieces were the first to take to the podium. Speaking on behalf of the family, one of the nieces revealed that she and her sister knew their "Uncle Ten" since they were young children. Before he hit the big time, Cheung would come to their home to tutor them and encourage them to do well in school.
The nieces went on to say that they learned of Cheung's depression last April when he revealed to them, during last year's Ching Ming Festival, that he had the affliction. They saw Cheung for the last time one week prior to his death. According to the girls, it was clear that depression had taken its toll on him. Cheung's niece said: "He told us: 'It hurts. Depression has made my life miserable'."
In an apparent response to the endless media speculation about the relationship between Cheung and Daffy Tong, Cheung's niece publicly thanked Tong for being there for her uncle. After recalling how Tong supported Cheung before he became famous, she said: "On behalf of Uncle Ten, I want to thank Mr. Tong. We are grateful that he stood beside our uncle through thick and thin. We are very happy that he and Uncle Daffy were together. To experience such a love, my uncle did not live his life in vain."
During his eulogy, Jacky Cheung revealed that he and Leslie Cheung were planning to do a musical together. The project was hatched at an event last year where the two started talking with Leslie Cheung suggesting to Jacky Cheung that they do a musical. Refering to the project, Jacky Cheung said: "Gor-Gor, the script is ready. It's too bad that we can't do it in this life time. I hope that we can do it in the next!"
Tsui Hark was clearly still coming to terms with Leslie Cheung's death as he broke down several times during his eulogy. Tsui called Cheung a "consummate artist" and said that his death was a "severe blow" to the Hong Kong film industry.
Picking up on Tsui's "consummate artist" theme, James Wong Jim said that Cheung was "perfect". Wong: "Heaven created a perfect man. He was beautiful, he was talented and he was kind. Maybe Heaven thought he was too perfect and wanted him back."
Wong also spoke of Cheung's generous and thoughtful nature. After a concert series, Wong revealed, Cheung would give gifts to crew members complete with personal handwritten notes.
Upon the completion of the eulogies, Cheung's casket was taken out to a hearse by pallbearers: Jacky Cheung, Lin Xi, Tsui Hark, Stanley Kwan Kam-Pang, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, James Wong and two of Cheung's friends from outside of the entertainment circle. The song that has become Cheung's signature piece, THE WIND BLOWS ON, was played during the procession.
After the casket was placed in the hearse, it made its way from the Hong Kong Funeral Home to the Cape Collinson Crematorium. An estimated 3,000 fans lined the streets to bid their idol a final farewell.
The cremation took less than fifteen minutes. Afterwards, a distraught Daffy Tong needed help to get to a waiting vehicle. Reportedly, Tong was the one who pushed the button to start the cremation after he put a farewell letter in Cheung's hand.
A reception was held following the services at the Conrad Hotel in the Admiralty district. Apparently, the hotel was chosen because it was a favourite meeting place for Tong and Cheung.