Hong Kong's former Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang, described by western media as "Iron Lady" of the city, has announced she will step back from public life, following the recent death of her daughter.
Chan wrote in a statement issued on Friday (26 June) that she had promised her children for long she "would step back from civic and political engagement and lead a quieter life" upon turning 80 at the beginning of this year.
"The recent loss of a beloved daughter is a devastating blow. I want to give myself time and space to mourn and recover. I also want to spend as much time as possible with my family, particularly my granddaughters and son‑in‑law," the statement read.
Chan called Hong Kong her home, saying "I urge young people not to lose hope for their future and continue to hold fast to the values that underpin our unique city but to do so in a law abiding and peaceful manner."
Chan's daughter Michelle Chan Wai-ling died at the age of 57 on 28 May. Since then, Anson Chan did not have public appearances. In 2007, Anson Chan and Michelle Chan were seen participating in the 1 July march together.
In view of the debacle arising from the now-withdrawn extradition bill and the serious clashes between protesters and police on 12 June last year, Anson Chan wrote an open letter to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to urge the administration to withdraw the bill, establish an independent commission of inquiry and consider offering a one-off amnesty to "all involved in potentially criminal acts" on the day, to "defuse tension and restore lasting calm" to the streets in the city.
Anson Chan served as the 30th and last Chief Secretary for the colonial government and as the first Chief Secretary after the city's handover from the United Kingdom to China in 1997.
Since retiring in 2001, Anson Chan has been known as a vocal supporter for Hong Kong's democratic development both locally and globally. In 2013, she launched Hong Kong 2020, a think tank to advocate universal suffrage in electing the city's Chief Executive and members of the legislature. In August last year, China's state media labelled her and three other prominent pro-democracy figures in Hong Kong, Martin Lee, Jimmy Lai and Albert Ho, as the "Gang of Four" that 'colludes' with Western forces to instigate unrest.
In 2007, Anson Chan was elected in the by-election of the Legislative Council for the seat made vacant by the death of Ma Lik, then chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. She served until the expiry of her term in 2008.