Anson Maria Elizabeth Chan Fang On Sang GBM GCMG (hon.) CBE JP () (born 17 January 1940) was a member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong for Hong Kong Island, succeeding the late legislator Ma Lik. Before running for LegCo, she served as the head of Hong Kong's civil service before and after the territory's handover to the People's Republic of China from British colonial rule. She was the first woman and the first Chinese to hold the second-highest governmental position in Hong Kong.
Chan's father, who was a textile manufacturer, moved the family to Hong Kong in 1948. Her mother Fang Zhaoling is a well-known painter. Her grandfather, Fang Zhenwu, was a Kuomintang general who fought against the Japanese invasion. Her uncle, Sir Harry Fang, is a well-known orthopaedic surgeon in Hong Kong who was named "International Man of the Year" for his work with handicapped children around the world.
In 1950, Chan's father died aged 36, leaving her mother with eight young children. With the support of Chan's grandmother, her mother not only shouldered the responsibility of raising her children, but also tried to pursue her career as an artist. She took two of her sons to study in England, leaving Chan and her five other siblings in Hong Kong with their grandmother and uncle.
Under her grandmother's strict discipline and high expectations, Chan learned that she had a duty towards the family and the community and was expected to be upright, diligent and righteous. She earned her pocket money by working as a private tutor and spent a year as a clerk at Queen Mary Hospital. In 1959, Chan entered the University of Hong Kong to study English literature.
She married University sweetheart Archibald Chan Tai-wing in 1963, She started work on a social work diploma, but later changed her mind and joined the Civil Service. Her husband became a science teacher at St Joseph's College, while she was one of only two women who joined the civil service at that time.
Afterwards, she progressed to the Economics Section of the Finance Branch in 1962, followed by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, then the Department of Commerce and Industry, and later back to Finance. In 1970, she became assistant financial secretary in the finance branch of the Colonial Secretary, the first woman to attain that post.
She became a senior administrative officer in 1970. During this period she helped set up the Association of Female Senior Government Officers to fight for better rights for women civil servants, notably pushing for wage parity with men.
Chan became the first female civil service director when appointed Director of Social Welfare in 1984. During her tenure, she was severely criticized by media for her handling of a child custody case in 1986, popularly known as the Daughter of Kwok-A Incident. An investigation by Unofficial members of the Executive Council found that Chan had "acted within the law" in respect of her extreme powers, but recommended changes to the law and to the Social Welfare Department's procedures to prevent re-occurrence of similar cases.
From 1987 to 1993, she was Secretary for Economic Services, becoming the 30th and last Chief Secretary in 1993. She mainly oversaw the localisation of the civil service during her time in this position.
Chan was the first woman and the first ethnic Chinese to hold the second-highest governmental position in Hong Kong. The highest governmental position, the Governor, was always held by Britons before Hong Kong's handover to People's Republic of China.
Chan was often described during this era as an "Iron Lady", with "an iron fist in a velvet glove". Chan was lauded as the most powerful woman in Asia for her role as the deputy of British Governor Chris Patten, and later Tung Chee-hwa.
''Practise their profession after 1997 as they have practised it, continue to write the stories and editorials that deserve to be written, responsibly, objectively without fear or favour... How well they do their job after the transition will to a very large extent decide how well our other freedoms will be protected. |20px|20px|Anson Chan on Hong Kong journalists' role after the handoverWhen pro-government figures in Hong Kong attacked the Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK) for being too critical of the Hong Kong and Chinese governments, Chan flew to its defence. In the summer of 1999 RTHK became a platform for Taiwan-Mainland China discussions. A local member of the PRC's National People's Congress, Tsang Hin-chi, urged the government-owned radio station to exercise self-censorship and not to provide a platform that express the splitting of China; Xu Simin, a member of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, urged RTHK to not allow Taiwan's president broadcasts.
On 12 April 2000 Wang Fengchao delivered a speech titled "The Principle of One China and the Taiwan Issue". Wang hinted that Article 23 should be enacted as quickly as possible in Hong Kong to protect China against treason and subversion. Chan spoke in a four hour speech after Wang on the importance of press freedom and publication, as she believed in genuine press freedom without external pressures.
The constant criticism of mainland officials and policies was perceived by many to be one of the main reasons for Beijing to view Chan as a malefactor in Hong Kong politics. In what the Hong Kong media saw as a dressing down for Chan, PRC Vice Premier Qian Qichen told her at a function in Beijing to "better support Tung", after there had been reports of disagreements between the two over the appointment of officials.
Chan agreed in 1999 to delay her retirement until June 2002. However, Chan announced her resignation in January 2001, and officially stepped down in April of the same year.
She was then appointed by Queen Elizabeth II to be an honorary Dame Grand Cross of the Most Distinguished Order of St Michael and St George in 2002. Such award was usually given only to Governors of Hong Kong before the return of sovereignty.
In December 2005, Chan participated in the protest march for democracy, against Donald Tsang's constitutional reform package and has since participated in subsequent marches for universal suffrage.
In July 2006, she criticised the Commission on Strategic Development, chaired by Donald Tsang, for being "rather slow and unsatisfactory", and announced her intention to start a "Core Group" to push for taking forward the debate on Hong Kong’s constitutional reforms. It was later announced that the group would consist of:
On 23 September 2006, in a news conference, Chan proclaimed that she would not run for the position of Chief Executive in 2007.
In the early hours of 2 December 2007, Chan was elected in the by-election with 175,874 votes, securing about 55% of the vote. Regina Ip, Chan's main rival, had 137,550 votes.
For this election, Chan spent HK$1.81 million, $330,000 more than her pro-Beijing rival Regina Ip. Her two main donors were Sir Quo-wei Lee and his wife, and Hong Kong Democratic Foundation chairman George Cautherly, who donated HK$250,000 each. Next Media chairman Jimmy Lai chee-ying donated HK$200,000, and the Democratic Party gave HK$65,840 "for services".
She and her husband have two children, Michelle and Andrew. They have four grandchildren.
Profile: Anson Chan resigns her post as Hong Kong's head of civil service, citing her length of service and desire to spend time with her family
Jan 12, 2001; 00-00-0000 Profile: Anson Chan resigns her post as Hong Kong's head of civil service, citing her length of service and desire to...