Hong Kong officials joined those from China yesterday at the funeral of a prominent pro-Beijing figure, who triggered a backlash by questioning whether the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown should be called a ``massacre.''
Ma Lik (馬力), who was head of Hong Kong's leading pro-China political party, the DAB, died of cancer at 55 on Aug. 8.
In May, Ma disputed witness accounts of China's June 4, 1989, crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing's Tiananmen Square, saying Chinese troops did not fire indiscriminately at demonstrators.
Ma's remarks triggered outrage in Hong Kong. Many hurled insults at Ma this year during Hong Kong's annual candlelight vigil, held to mourn those killed in the 1989 crackdown.
However, his funeral service in the territory yesterday was attended by top Hong Kong officials, as well as Ma's fellow pro-Beijing party leaders and others.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Donald Tsang (曾蔭權), his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa (董建華), and Gao Siren (高祀仁), the head of Beijing's liaison office in the territory, served as pallbearers.
After Ma's death, Chinese officials hailed him a patriot. His coffin was draped with a Chinese national flag yesterday.
Journalists and many other witnesses say Chinese troops fired machine guns at protesters and drove tanks over them, killing hundreds, perhaps thousands in and around Tiananmen Square during the 1989 crackdown.
Ma later said his controversial remarks about the incident may have been ``rash and frivolous.'' Immediately after making the comments he left for treatment in Guangzhou.
Ma took over the DAB leadership after Tsang Yok-sing (