Mr. Cha was a patriot in his whole lifetime, truly loving his country and nation, loving his home town and loving culture, and - from this perspective - also including loving Ta Kung Pao.
During Hong Kong's return to the Motherland in 1997, despite Mr. Cha was not an active member of the patriotic camp at the time, but in face of such a great historical turn for our country to wash away the century-long national shame and resume exercising sovereignty [over Hong Kong], he had no hesitation in accepting the invitation to work as a member of the Basic Law Drafting Committee. With his legal background, he together with his senior fellow townsman and kinsman Mr. Cha Chi-ming had proposed a "Cha-duo proposal" for the SAR's political system. Some suggestions in the proposal, such as the Legislative Council to be formed through elections by direct universal suffrage and the Chief Executive to be appointed by the Central Government, were not accepted at the time as they were deemed not feasible. But his position to uphold the Central Government's powers over Hong Kong was correct and praise-worthy, and also showed his foresight.
After his retirement, which place in this globe could he not have moved to live in? Universities were also queueing up for inviting him to teach. Yet he preferred to have his house built by the West Lake near the Xiling Seal Club and live there. He also took up the post as Dean of Zhejiang University's College of Liberal Arts, and not just in title only but practically gave lectures to graduate students. Later on when it was not convenient for him to move around, he ceased going there to lecture and he also donated to the government the house built with his own funds.
What best showed Mr. Cha's patriotism was his lifelong love for Ta Kung Pao, for this newspaper with a clear-cut, unswerving stance of patriotism.
In April 2009, Mr. Cha visited Ta Kung Pao again after more than one decade. Having made a tour and held talks, Mr. Cha gladly put pen to paper, writing down a journalistic moto: "Comments can be made freely but Facts must be revered as sacred". What was more "shocking" was that, an over-80-year-old, internationally-recognised Mr. Cha wrote down one stroke after another such a complementary close: "Respectfully presented by Jin Yong to his former boss Ta Kung Pao".
Ta Kung Pao was a place where a young Mr. Cha had worked for about a decade. His debut novel that established his fame, The Book and the Sword, was first published in the New Evening Post, a sister publication of Ta Kung Pao. But the words "respectfully presented to his former boss" were not out of modesty for no reason, but from the deep patriotic affections in his heart that had never changed in several decades.
In 2005, Mr. Cha, then 81, still traveled afar to Britain to study for a master's degree and a doctorate at Cambridge University, where he went to classrooms with a backpack like other students and had his meals in student canteens. This was despite previously Cambridge University had already awarded him a honourary doctorate.
Mr. Cha gained both fame and wealth in his lifetime, and he also loved fine food and wine and enjoyed life. But regarding entertainments, invitations from home and abroad and even offers of "promotion in rank or an official post" by those who were ignorant of and did not respect culture and learning but thought they could call in anyone with money, he never gave face to them and remained unmoved. The moral integrity of Chinese intellectuals shone with brilliant light in this "chivalrous swordsman".
Mr. Louis Cha, may you rest in peace. Ta Kung people cherish the memory of you forever.
31 October 2018