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Ma Lik, GBS, JP (Chinese: 馬力; 23 February 1952 – 8 August 2007), was a Legislative Councillor, and was the Chairman of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB), a pro-Beijing political party in Hong Kong.

Ma Lik

Ma Lik DAB.jpg
Chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong
In office
9 December 2003 – 8 August 2007
Preceded byTsang Yok-sing
Succeeded byTam Yiu-chung
Member of the Legislative Council
In office
1 October 2004 – 8 August 2007
Preceded byCyd Ho
Succeeded byAnson Chan
ConstituencyHong Kong Island
Personal details
Born(1952-02-23)23 February 1952
Died8 August 2007(2007-08-08) (aged 55)
NationalityHong Kong Chinese
Political partyDAB
Spouse(s)Leung Wai-ching
ResidenceHong Kong
Alma materChinese University of Hong Kong
Secondary school teacher
Journalist (in Chinese)
Ma Lik
Traditional Chinese馬力
Simplified Chinese马力
Jyutpingmaa5 lik6


Ma Lik attended the Pui Kiu Middle School. He graduated with a bachelor's degree (with Honours) from the Department of Chinese from United College, Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Early yearsEdit

He was a teacher in the Pui Kiu Middle School, a pro-Chinese secondary school in Hong Kong. He was a deputy publisher of the Hong Kong Commercial Daily and a local Deputy to the National People's Congress[1]


Ma was formerly the Secretary General of the DAB, and became the Chairman of the DAB in December 2003 Chairman, Jasper Tsang resigned following the poor performance of the party in the November 2003 District Council elections[2] in which the pro-democratic camp won 150 seats, while DAB secured only 62 seats out of the 205 DAB candidates fielded.[3] Ma was re-elected leader on 25 April 2007.[4]

Ma served in the Basic Law Promotion Steering Committee, Hong Kong Cheshire Home Foundation, and Committee on the Promotion of Civic Education. He was formerly the Chief Editor of the Hong Kong Commercial Daily, Deputy Secretary General of the Hong Kong Basic Law Consultative Committee, Director of Treasure Land International Property Consultants, General Manager of The Hong Kong Institute for Promotion of Chinese Culture, and member of the Selection Committee for the First Government of HKSAR.[1]

Ma was active in the political circles in Hong Kong and Mainland China. Ma wrote weekly and daily columns that appear in Hong Kong Economic Times, Ming Pao and The Sun.

Ma announced in 2004, prior to standing for election to the Legislative Council, that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer.[5]


He left for treatment in Guangzhou soon after the Tiananmen controversy he sparked. He died on 8 August 2007 at 2 pm in Guangzhou Sun Yat-sen University.[6] His body was transported back to Hong Kong on 11 August 2007. The funeral was held on 23 August. He was cremated according to his wishes.

Ma's death precipitated the 2007 Hong Kong Island by-election, which was won by Anson Chan on 2 December 2007.[7]

Tiananmen Square Massacre denial furoreEdit

On 15 May 2007, during an informal meeting Ma had with journalists to discuss political reform,[8] Ma was asked on his views on the "Tiananmen massacre". Ma caused huge furore which hit radio broadcasts, the front pages and editorials of several of the local newspapers, which cited him denying that clampdown of the protesters was a "massacre".[9]

He said of 4000 students at the scene, not everyone was killed; certain student leaders, namely Chai Ling, Wuerkaixi, Feng Chungde, and Hou Dejian, were able to leave the protest site without incident, therefore it is not a massacre.[10] Comments which appeared to cause the most offense related to the alleged army tanks' rolling over protesters, and the PLA's cremation of victim's bodies on-site:

Ma questioned whether "Gweilos" (a racial epithet for Caucasians) should be the ones to interpret the truth about Tiananmen,[10] and asserted that Hong Kong was "not mature enough", for believing a massacre took place. Hong Kong lacked patriotism and national identity, and would thus not be ready for universal suffrage until 2022.[10]

Ma also asked the Education Department to define massacre as events where over 4,000 were dead, which would make Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 not a massacre under the new definition. He later withdrew the redefinition request.[citation needed]


Democrats and relatives of victims all attacked Ma for his comments. Szeto Wah called Ma "shameless", questioning if killings had to be on the scale of the Nanking Massacre to qualify.[11] He said that "facts written in blood cannot be twisted by lies".[10] Democrat Cheung Man Kwong criticised the attempt at "whitewash",[10] and denounced Ma as "cold-blooded".[5] Student leader of the protest, Wang Dan, said Ma was "utterly devoid of a conscience".[9] Albert Ho said: "Ma's remarks have put salt on the open historical wounds".[5]

Outraged by Ma's comments, 127 "Tiananmen Mothers", led by Ding Zilin, demanded a retraction and a public apology for the humiliation he has heaped on those who died.[12]

The day after the remarks appeared in the headlines, Ma attended an RTHK radio phone-in, where he apologised for making "frivolous and giddy" remarks. Ma claimed he was merely trying to bring the rash claims about the number and manner of deaths reported in the foreign press into proper perspective.[5] He admitted he had perhaps been careless with his words, and would assume full responsibility for what he said.[13] He stopped short of apologising for his comments in general.

One DAB Vice Chairman Tam Yiu Chung defended Ma, but questioned the timing: "people will understand it gradually".[10] Fearing political fallout, another DAB Vice Chairman, Lau Kong Wah (劉江華), distanced the party from Ma, saying that Ma had expressed "a personal opinion".[9] Chan Wing-kee (陳永棋), the head of ATV and CPPCC Standing Committee member declared Ma "a patriot" for his comments.[12] Chan furthermore denounced the perennial Legco debate on the 4 June incident as "unnecessary".[14] Another CPPCC member, Chang Ka-mun, chimed in, saying it was "irrational" to compare 4 June to the Nanjing massacre.[15]

The Central committee of the DAB declined any further action after their meeting on 22 May, stating that Vice-Chairman Lau's response was adequate. There was no formal apology.

The annual vigil in memory of Tiananmen attracted an increased turnout in 2007. An estimated 55,000 people, more than a few of whom appear to have been spurred to attend by Ma's comments, packed Victoria Park,[16] up from 44,000 one year earlier.[17]

Possible motivesEdit

Analysts began to comment that Ma's remarks might have been part of a concerted propaganda attempt by Beijing to dampen expectations for universal suffrage.[18]

The timing of the above statement by NPC Chairman Wu Bangguo to a NPC deputies' meeting in March 2007, is considered important, as Donald Tsang promised a green paper (consultative document) on electoral reform would be published in the summer.[citation needed]

More recently, some local loyalists have issued statements pushing back the date for universal suffrage. Most notably, Cheng Yiu-tong ruled out direct elections for the Chief Executive in 2012.[18] He further warned pro-democracy advocates that universal suffrage in 2017 was unlikely. He blamed the lack of progress on the "intransigence" of democrats, who blocked reform proposals put forward in December 2005. Cheng said that the electoral system would "march on the spot again in 2012".[20]

Other controversiesEdit


On 20 October 1999 the pro-Beijing group fiercely attacked Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK). Ma Lik publicly attacked RTHK from changing the role from a "watchdog" to a "mouthpiece" of the Hong Kong government.[21]

Criticising Hong KongEdit

Ma Lik criticised the rate at which Hong Kong is moving. And that it would take until 2022 for the public to have acquired enough patriotism to accept Communist party rule.[22]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b Ma Lik, Legco, Retrieved 18 May 2007
  2. ^ Cannix Yau, "Ma pledges to win back trust in DAB" Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Standard, 10 December 2003
  3. ^ Eddie Luk, "Public speak out with votes" Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Standard, 27 November 2003
  4. ^ Ma Lik reappointed as DAB chairman, Radio Television Hong Kong, Retrieved 18 May 2007
  5. ^ a b c d Carrie Chan and Diana Lee, "Ma critics use 4 June row to attack DAB", The Standard, 17 May 2007
  6. ^ News on Ma Lik's death Archived 10 January 2016 at the Wayback Machine, Yahoo! Retrieved on 8 August 2007.
  7. ^ Election Result of the 2007 LegCo Hong Kong Island by-election Archived 15 December 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Ma Lik's Comments on June Fourth", Page A2, East South West North, ZoneEuropa, Accessed 22 May 2007
  9. ^ a b c Pro-Beijing lawmaker in Hong Kong denies Tiananmen Square 'massacre' in 1989, Associated Press, International Herald Tribune, 15 May 2007
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Ambrose Leung, "Fury at DAB chief's Tiananmen tirade", Page 1, South China Morning Post, 16 May 2007
  11. ^ Page 1, Ming Pao, 16 May 2007
  12. ^ a b Page A5, Ming Pao, 18 May 2007
  13. ^ 馬力認輕佻拒撤觀點,否認促為六四定調 願受黨處分, Ming Pao, 17 May 2007 (in Chinese)
  14. ^ Ma's massacre denials draw fire from activists, The Standard, 18 May 2007
  15. ^ Damon Pang, `Massacre' remarks trigger sharp exchange at City Forum, The Standard, 21 May 2007
  16. ^ Scarlett Chiang, 4 June turnout rises amid outrage at Ma Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Standard, 5 June 2007
  17. ^ Justin Mitchell and Michael Ng, Tens of thousands at vigil Archived 22 May 2011 at the Wayback Machine, The Standard, 5 June 2006
  18. ^ a b Chris Yeung, "Pouring cold water on democracy hopes", Page A14, South China Morning Post, 21 May 2007
  19. ^ Chris Yeung, "Pouring cold water on democracy hopes", Page A14, South China Morning Post, 21 May 2007,
  20. ^ Gary Cheng, "Warning over reform in 2017", Page A2, South China Morning Post, 21 May 2007
  21. ^ Wong, Yiu-Chung. [2004] (2004). One Country, Two Systems in Crisis: Hong Kong's Transformation Since the handover. Lexington Books. ISBN 0-7391-0492-6.
  22. ^ Pepper, Suzanne. Keeping Democracy at Bay: Hong Kong and the Challenge of Chinese Political. [2007] (2007). Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 0-7425-0877-3.
Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Cyd Ho
Member of Legislative Council
Representative for Hong Kong Island
Served alongside: Martin Lee, Yeung Sum, Choy So-yuk, Audrey Eu, Rita Fan
Succeeded by
Anson Chan
Party political offices
Preceded by
Jasper Tsang
Chairman of Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong
Succeeded by
Tam Yiu-chung