Rita Fan

Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai

Rita Fan.jpg
Member of the National People's Congress Standing Committee
In office
March 2008 – 18 March 2018
Preceded byTsang Hin-chi
Succeeded byTam Yiu-chung
President of the Legislative Council
In office
25 January 1997 – 30 September 2008
Chief ExecutiveTung Chee-hwa
Donald Tsang
Preceded byAndrew Wong
Succeeded byJasper Tsang
Unofficial Member of the Executive Council
In office
1 January 1989 – 7 October 1992
Appointed bySir David Wilson
Member of the Legislative Council
In office
26 September 1983 – 7 October 1992
Appointed bySir Edward Youde
In office
24 May 1998 – 12 September 2004
ConstituencyElection Committee
In office
12 September 2004 – 7 September 2008
Succeeded byCyd Ho
ConstituencyHong Kong Island
Personal details
Born (1945-09-20) 20 September 1945 (age 74)
Shanghai, Republic of China
Political partyLiberal Party (until 1998)
Independent (since 1998)
Stephen S.T. Fan (m. 1974⁠–⁠2004)
RelationsHsu Ta Tung (father)
ResidenceHong Kong
Alma materSt. Stephen's Girls' College
University of Hong Kong (B.Sc/M.Sc)
WebsiteOfficial website

Rita Fan
Traditional Chinese范徐麗泰
Simplified Chinese范徐丽泰

Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, GBM, GBS, CBE, JP (Chinese: 范徐麗泰; born 20 September 1945) is a senior Hong Kong politician. She was the first President of the Hong Kong SAR Legislative Council from 1998 to 2008 and the member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPCSC).

First Stepping into politics when she was appointed to the colonial Legislative Council in 1983, she rose to the Executive Council in 1989 until she resigned from the colonial services in 1992. She developed a close relationship with the Beijing authorities subsequently, assuming the office of the President of the Beijing-installed Provisional Legislative Council on the eve of the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong. She continued her position as the President of the SAR Legislative Council and first contested in the geographical constituency direct election in Hong Kong Island in 2004.

Shortly before retiring from the Legislative Council in 2008, Fan became the member of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) in 2008, where she had been the Hong Kong deputy of the national legislature from 1997. She served in the Standing Committee until her retirement in 2018.

Early life and education[]

Hsu was born in Shanghai on 20 September 1945 to her father business magnate Hsu Ta Tung. Hsu Ta Tung was a business partner and assistant to Green Gang boss Du Yuesheng. The Hsu family followed Du to move to Hong Kong before the fall of Shanghai to the Communist Party of China when Rita Fan was only four.[1][2]

Her English name Rita is named after Hollywood star Rita Hayworth.[3] She studied at the St. Stephen's Girls' College before she obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry and Physics from the University of Hong Kong. After her graduation, Hsu worked for the University for seven years and obtained a master's degree in Psychology during that time. She later joined Hong Kong Polytechnic as head of their Student Affairs Unit and, later, as associate director.[1]

Colonial political career[]

Fan first stepped into politics when she was appointed to the Legislative Council by Governor Edward Youde in 1983. To avoid any appearance of conflict of interest, she resigned from her post at the Hong Kong Polytechnic. As the convenor of the Security Panel in the Legislative Council, she dealt with the cross-border car smuggling problem at the time. She persuaded the Mainland authorities to require all cars driven on the Mainland to have left hand drives which meant the Hong Kong right hand drive car could no longer be smuggled into the Mainland before the mechanical overhaul. She was appointed chairman of the Board of Education from 1986 to 1989 and chairman of the Education Commission from 1990 to 1992.[1]

Fan also insisted She strongly espoused the case for mother tongue education and suggested that the government should increase the university graduates ratio of primary teachers. She insisted British Hong Kong government on repatriating Vietnamese boat people which took refuge in Hong Kong and became one of the major issues at the time, to protect the interests of the Hong Kong residents.[4]

She was later appointed to the Executive Council by Governor David Wilson in 1989.[1] After the first Legislative Council direct election which saw the emergence of the populist pro-democracy camp in the legislature, Fan joined the appointed members led by Allen Lee to form the conservative parliamentary group Co-operative Resources Centre in 1991 which soon transformed into Liberal Party. She held the position in the Executive and Legislative Councils. until she was told to resign from the Executive Council by the newly arrived Governor Chris Patten so he could reform the council. Due to Patten's confrontational approach in putting forward the constitutional reform proposal which was strongly opposed by the Beijing authorities which Fan saw as "a threat to a smooth handover", she decided to resign from both the Executive and the Legislative Councils in 1992.[5]

Legislative Council President[]

Soon after her retirement from the colonial government, she took a position in the Emperor Group run by Albert Yeung who had multiple criminal records which sparked controversy.[6] In 1993, she also accepted Beijing’s appointment to the Preliminary Working Committee, and later the Preparatory Committee for the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. She was later elected by the 400-strong Selection Committee to the Provisional Legislative Council, a provisional legislature installed by Beijing which the pro-democracy camp deemed as unconstitutional. She was elected the President of the Provisional Legislative Council. She was severely attacked for her switching side and was called "chameleon" and "Jiang Qing of Hong Kong", wife of Chairman Mao Zedong and the head of the Gang of Four.[7]

The Provisional Legislative Council transited through the handover of Hong Kong in 1997. She ran in the Election Committee electoral college in the first SAR Legislative Council election in 1998. She continued to serve three consecutive terms as elected President of the Legislative Council from 1998. She demonstrated a largely acclaimed and respected firm but fair manner of presiding at meetings, and dealing with the radical members such as Leung Kwok-hung who she ejected from the Legislative Council chamber in November 2004.[1]

In the 2004 Legislative Council election, she ran in the Hong Kong Island geographical constituency direct election after the Election Committee electoral college seats were abolished. She received more than 65,000 votes, 18.5 per cent of the total vote share. She continued to serve in the Legislative Council for one more term until her retirement in 2008.

National People's Congress Standing Committee[]

Fan was first elected to the National People's Congress in 1997. Shortly before her retirement from the Legislative Council in 2008, Fan was promoted to the Standing Committee. Among other services, she is also chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Association for Celebration of Reunification of Hong Kong with China Charitable Trust Fund, honorary adviser of the Hong Kong Federation of Women, patron of Hong Kong Kidney Foundation and Hong Kong Transplant Sports Association and Whole Person Education Foundation.[8]

In the 2012 Chief Executive election, Fan had expressed her interest in the post. Despite topping in the opinion polls originally, Fan lost a lot of public support and respect by taking six months to consider her candidacy.[9] After much prevarication-induced speculation, Fan announced that she would not participate because her age and health would become concerns into the Chief Executive term; and she endorsed Chief Secretary for Administration Henry Tang instead when Tang showed his intention to run, However, when the extramarital affair of Henry Tang was exposed, Fan withdrew her support for him.[9][10][11] After former Convenor of the Executive Council Leung Chun-ying won the election, Fan remained critical of the Leung administration. She believed her criticism toward Leung had cost her votes which plunged from 2,896 to 2,790 in her 2013 re-election to the Standing Committee.[12]

Fan did not seek for re-election in the 2017 National People's Congress election due to the unofficial 70-year-old age limit.[13]

Personal life[]

She married businessman Stephen Fan Sheung-tak in 1974 until his death from liver cancer in 2004. The couple had a son Andrew and a daughter Stephanie. Their daughter suffered from renal failure in 1995, and Fan donated a kidney to save her daughter's life. Fan was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 and underwent a mastectomy.[4] She is Honorary President of the Hong Kong Breast Cancer Foundation.

See also[]


  1. ^ a b c d e Rita FAN HSU Lai Tai. University of Hong Kong.
  2. ^ "揭范徐麗泰青幫父親身世". 壹週刊. 1 April 2004.
  3. ^ "生命可以隨時終結 范徐麗泰". 壹週刊. 21 June 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai". China.org.cn. 10 March 2010.
  5. ^ "Who cares about popularity? Rita Fan unapologetic as she calls time on 34 years of Hong Kong politics". South China Morning Post. 26 February 2018.
  6. ^ Vines, Stephen (16 November 1997). "What is it about Rita Fan that makes Hong Kong hate her so?". The Independent.
  7. ^ "Heftige Irritationen". Der Spiegel. 21 July 1997.
  8. ^ "RITA FAN HSU LAI-TAI". Go.Asia.
  9. ^ a b South China Morning Post. Good leader for Hong Kong wanted; political opportunists need not apply. 12 October 2011.
  10. ^ "唐英年:盡快就參選特首作決定 暫未組班". RTHK 1 October 2011. Archived from the original on 2 March 2012
  11. ^ Ng, Kang-chung; So, Peter; Lee, Colleen (18 February 2012). "Fan may be back in contention, say analysts". South China Morning Post
  12. ^ "Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai says opposing C.Y. cost her votes in NPC". South China Morning Post. 15 March 2013.
  13. ^ "港區人大代表換屆選舉 今起接受報名". 香港商報. 10 July 2017.

External links[]

Legislative Council of Hong Kong
Preceded by
Andrew Wong
as President of the Legislative Council
President of the Provisional Legislative Council
Succeeded by
as President of the Legislative Council
Preceded by
as President of the Provisional Legislative Council
President of the Legislative Council
Succeeded by
Jasper Tsang
New parliament Member of Legislative Council
Representative for Election Committee
Constituency eliminated
New seat Member of Legislative Council
Representative for Hong Kong Island
Succeeded by
Cyd Ho
National People's Congress
Preceded by
Tsang Hin-chi
Member of Standing Committee
Representative for Hong Kong SAR
Succeeded by
Tam Yiu-chung
Order of precedence
Preceded by
Charles Lee
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Hong Kong order of precedence
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal
Succeeded by
Rafael Hui
Recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal