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Obituary: A Toast to Ian Verchere

By Philip Bowring

Ian Verchere, who died on 17 July in England aged 83, was one of the most agreeable and versatile journalists I have known. A restless enthusiasm and a wide variety of intellectual interests took him to many places, but he started out in Hong Kong doing his national service in the army in the late 1950s which led to his first job as a sports reporter on the South China Morning Post. Then it was off to La Sorbonne in Paris for two years to perfect his French, which led to a job as tour manager for Thomas Cook and a great deal of travel around Europe; he also spoke passable Spanish having studied in Barcelona.

The travel bug and journalism merged when the travel trade’s premier journal, Travel Trade Gazette, hired him. Ian then became the editor of Asia Travel Trade (ATT) following a chance meeting at a Singapore travel conference in 1972 with the publisher, bringing him back to Hong Kong. I arrived in the then-colony the following year and we quickly became friends. When he hired Murray Bailey to join him at ATT, Ian persuaded me to let Murray share my flat.

Ian was by then editing Insight, a monthly business-focused magazine which was, at least for a while, a journalistic success even if not a commercial one. Its in-depth look at business was a first for English-language monthly journalism in 1970s Hong Kong, a period that saw a great flowering of regional journalism with the launch of Far Eastern Economic Review, Asiaweek and the Asian Wall Street Journal, among others. ATT and Insight gave him great opportunities to travel in the region and satisfy his wide and ever-growing interests.

From the May 1979 issue of The Correspondent magazine.

While living in Stanley, Ian also took up sailing a Hobie – a small catamaran which he launched off the beach at To Tei Wan. I was also living in Stanley, and also had a dinghy which I kept on the main beach, so I saw Ian quite often – though we did not make a habit of visiting the Smugglers Inn, then strictly for the squaddies from Stanley Fort.

In 1979 Bank of America lured Ian away from journalism with a job in Tokyo as vice president of corporate communications. He worked there for five years, then moved to New York. But journalism remained his first love and he eventually returned to London, working for Janes’ aviation magazines, the Economist Intelligence Unit and The European newspaper (which made a valiant but failed effort (1990-1998) to persuade English-language readers to learn more about what was happening in Europe). He also freelanced for numerous national dailies.

Ian went on do much sailing and travelling in Europe, the Caribbean, the US and across to Fiji. His adventures in Fiji led to a semi-autobiographical novel, Mugged in Tahiti, a tale of fun and games in the South Pacific. He also wrote Sailing into American History, a journey along the east coast’s Intracoastal Waterway which shed light on the early decades of the US.

The avid traveller was also very much at home in Buckinghamshire where I last saw him for lunch at a pub on the Grand Union canal. A memorial service was held at St Mary the Virgin, Ivinghoe, on 10 August 2021, followed by drinks at The Old Swan in Cheddington. I drank a toast to his memory at the Smugglers Inn.

Remembering Jonathan Mirsky

By Stephen Vines

Jonathan Mirsky was never a conventional journalist, nor conventional anything else. He died in London in September at the age of 88. 

For many years he was among the best known China watchers in the hacking business and won the British Press Awards International Reporter of the Year title in 1989 for his Tiananmen massacre coverage in The Observer

In Beijing he was “rewarded” with a savage beating at the hands of the police while covering the protests.

He later moved to The Times and was based in Hong Kong from 1993 to 1998. Towards the end, Mirsky fell out with the paper’s increasingly accommodating attitude towards Beijing ordered by owner Rupert Murdoch, who had big ambitions for expanding business in China.

Mirsky became a familiar figure at the FCC, where a lack of alcoholic consumption and an enthusiasm for discussion – not forgetting an impressive stock of Jewish jokes – marked him out as a not so run-of-the-mill member.

Mirsky, or Minsky as I called him after he was mistakenly identified as such by aristocratic Times Editor William Rees-Mogg, came to journalism through the circuitous route of academia and never quite lost his affection for the long form preferred in universities.

I got to know him back in the 1980s when we were both working for The Observer in London. He was an eccentric character in a newsroom where eccentricity was the norm. At the time I was engaged in the hard-edged area of labour reporting, while Mirsky was pontificating on China from afar. 

Infuriatingly to us hacks who thought that the only kind of reporting that mattered came from on-the-spot observation, he managed to produce superb and highly readable analysis which often outdid the work of Beijing-based correspondents.

When we were later both based in Hong Kong, we occasionally joined forces for interviews. It was an exasperating experience as Mirsky liked to be discursive and, with his genuine interest for people and what made them tick, would spend a great deal of time talking to the interviewees about their lives, while I was impatient to extract the news line of the day.

The Mirsky method often worked far better than the more conventional news-gathering approach, and he made firm friends with many of the people he interviewed. Among them were the Dalai Lama, who wrote to him shortly before his death, and Chris Patten, Hong Kong’s last Governor – a combination of friendships likely to confirm the worst misgivings of an ever-suspicious government in Beijing.

Mirsky came from an aggressively secular intellectual leftist New York Jewish family and quickly graduated towards left-wing politics both as a student and an academic. It was this leftism that led him to become one of the early visitors to China in 1972 when the regime was keen to cultivate fellow travellers.

It would however be inaccurate to describe Mirsky as an apologist for the regime, because a sharp eye for the reality of Mao’s China and an uncontainable independence of mind defied such a simple characterisation.

In later years, most especially after Tiananmen, he became a prominent critic and was banned from entering the PRC. To describe Mirsky as being somehow “anti-China” would be a gross misconception because he had a deep love of all things Chinese and almost certainly a deeper knowledge of China’s culture and history than many of the most avid “patriots” who flaunt their love of the nation these days.

Above all Jonathan Mirsky was a mensch. It’s a Yiddish term that covers everything from friendship to humour to kindness yet is still inadequate to convey the true nature of the man.

Obituary: Author Dr Feng Chi-shun, a ‘truly talented and diversely accomplished man’

Paul Murray pays tribute to his friend, Dr Feng Chi-shun.

Chi passed peacefully early afternoon on Friday, March 8 after a particularly debilitating illness which robbed him of his considerable communicative powers.

Originally from Wuhan, he came to Hong Kong, as so many did, as a result of the Mainland Civil War.

His insightful novel, Diamond Hill, describes his early years and school days growing up with his family in a tough squatter settlement at a time when Hong Kong’s population was rapidly expanding.

A clever man, he was no isolated ‘bookworm’. He enjoyed sport and socialising, keenly and astutely observing the world around him.

Chi did his Medical Degree at the University of Hong Kong, moving to the USA to train as a pathologist initially in New York, then Philadelphia.

Chi married and had three children in the USA before returning to Hong Kong to work and settle.

He remarried in Hong Kong in 1997. His wife, Cathy Hillborn, loyal and loving, was with him daily throughout his last dark journey.

Not only was Chi a well-respected pathologist but in his later years became a prize-winning and best-selling novelist. His most recent work Three Wishes in Bardo, perhaps his best, takes us from Hong Kong to New York, California, Texas, back to New York and, ultimately, to Hong Kong. An adventurous, powerful and spiritual journey encapsulating the triumph of human qualities over malice and….. Tibetan Bardo – a state after death when the conscious mind actively persists on leaving the physical state.

Chi, a popular, elegant and witty friend. A fixture and feature at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club. It’s hard to believe we won’t see you and enjoy your company there anymore.

A truly talented and diversely accomplished man.

Profoundly missed by your loving wife, your sisters, children, and many friends.

At peace now, Chi – your muse at peace too.

Watch Dr Chi at the launch of his book, Hong Kong Noir

Obituary: Anthony Paul, distinguished foreign correspondent and editor who remained a roving reporter at heart

By Brodie Paul and William Mellor

One of Asia Pacific’s most distinguished foreign correspondents, two-time FCC President and life member Anthony Paul, passed away in Brisbane on July 14, aged 81.

Partially obscured, Tony Paul in the shadow of Ambassador Graham Martin as the press crowd around the last US envoy to South Vietnam aboard the USS Blue Ridge following the fall of Saigon in 1975. Partially obscured, Tony Paul in the shadow of Ambassador Graham Martin as the press crowd around the last US envoy to South Vietnam aboard the USS Blue Ridge following the fall of Saigon in 1975.

Even among the pantheon of FCC greats, Tony’s career was unique. As a war correspondent for the Reader’s Digest – at the time the world’s largest selling magazine with a circulation of 23 million – he covered the 1975 fall of Saigon and Phnom Penh. Then, having reinvented himself as a business writer and editor, he went on to chronicle the rise of numerous other Asian cities and economies as the region boomed, most recently as an influential columnist with Fortune Magazine.

A 1977 book Tony co-wrote, Murder of a Gentle Land, exposed Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia at a time when many Asia-watchers remained in denial. Subsequent scoops included discovering that the leader of the post-war Malayan communist insurgency against British rule, Chin Peng, had not died in exile in China as many journalists believed, but was indeed alive and well and living just across the Thai border in Hatyai. In 1997, Tony tracked Chin Peng down and interviewed him over lunch at the British Club in Bangkok – an irony both of them enjoyed.

Based in Hong Kong for much of the period between 1972 and 1998, Tony was elected FCC President in 1977-78, then re-elected for a second term the following year. He was an honorary life member not only of the FCC, but also of the FCCT in Thailand and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan. During years covering conflict in the region, Tony had also acquired an enviable list of military and intelligence contacts, as a result of which he became the only journalist we know to have enjoyed membership of both the FCC and the Special Forces Club in London.

Tony Paul's FCC membership card. Tony Paul’s FCC membership card.

Indeed, when recent changes to the Special Forces Club membership rules were proposed limiting membership to only ex-services types, it was pointed out by a senior member who knew Tony in Asia that Tony would qualify for more campaign medals than many current members.

Apart from covering the Indochina conflict, he also reported on the Soviet-Afghan War (1978-82), and communist insurgencies in Thailand, Malaya, and the Philippines. After the 2002 U.S. invasion of Iraq, Tony, by then well into his 60s, returned to the fray with a reporting trip to Baghdad. Denied insurance and expenses for body armour by the Straits Times, for whom in semi-retirement he them wrote columns, Tony grew a bushy beard for protection to pass more easily as a local. He used to same ruse while visiting Pakistan to interview the then military dictator, Pervez Musharraf.

Tony faced his own last battle as courageously as he reported wars. After learning on June 29 that he had stage 4 oesophagal cancer, he instructed that he be allowed to die as speedily as possible with no visitors except close family, no chemotherapy, no fuss and no memorial service.

Never a dull moment spent with Tony, and many of those ‘moments’ were long lunches.

To many FCC correspondent and journalist members a generation younger, the tall, handsome and avuncular Tony Paul was a friend and mentor, often delving into his vast contacts book to help those less well connected. He also worked closely with them. During his spell as Asia correspondent for the Reader’s Digest and frustrated by the monthly publication’s long lead times, he persuaded his bosses to buy the financially struggling Hong Kong-based Asiaweek magazine and allow him to join the Asiaweek team as a roving writer, feeding his need for more frequent scoops.

Then, after leaving the Digest, he became the founding editor of two other high-quality Asian publications, Business Tokyo, which he edited both out of Japan and New York, and Asia Inc., which he launched in Hong Kong in 1992. Asia Inc. subsequently won the Citibank Pan Asia Journalism Award three years in succession.

Journalists Tony hired or encouraged during those years were among many who paid tribute to him on social media. “Never a dull moment spent with Tony, and many of those ‘moments’ were long lunches,” former FCC and FCCT President Thomas Crampton wrote. “He helped me a great deal at the start of my career.”

Veteran AFP correspondent Ian Timberlake commented: “Tony graciously helped me when I was a green and impoverished stringer in Jakarta.”

Tony Paul in the Sichuan earthquake zone in 2011. Tony Paul in the Sichuan earthquake zone in 2011.

Tony’s beneficence extended way beyond assisting colleagues. Amid the turmoil of the fall of Saigon, he succeeded against the odds in getting his interpreter Son Van Nguyen and the Nguyen family on a plane to the U.S. “The Nguyen clan owe everything to Tony and the Paul family,” Gigi Nguyen wrote from New York. “We are so grateful to you and love you dearly.”

Typically, Tony self-deprecatingly played down his role in the Nguyen drama. As Saigon evacuated, he recalled how he had used his bulk to leap on a bus besieged by fleeing Americans leaving for the airport and used his 6’ 2” (188 cm) frame to brace himself at the door of the bus. “This bus goes nowhere without Son and his family,” Tony declared, amid protests that the vehicle was exclusively for Americans. Only after much pushing and shoving did he hear a voice from the back of the bus yelling: “Tony, Tony it’s OK…we are already on board.” During the commotion and unnoticed by Tony, the diminutive family members had slipped in under his arms.

Tony lost all his luggage in the evacuation, arriving on the U.S.S. Blue Ridge with only a typewriter, two opium pipes, a South Vietnamese general’s hat, one boot (he had lost the other under a helicopter skid) and the Nguyens. On arrival at the ship’s registration desk for evacuees, a marine officer looked at the one shoed man carrying opium pipes and wearing a general’s hat and observed: “Who the fuck are they sending us now?”

Tony also delighted in telling of his first failed attempt to return to a besieged Phnom Penh days before it fell to Pol Pot’s forces in April 1975. Arriving at Bangkok airport on March 31 with what he though was a confirmed reservation on an Air Cambodge Caravelle, Tony was told by a check-in clerk, giggling in embarrassment, that the flight has been cancelled. When Tony demanded to know why, the clerk offered two reasons: Firstly, the Khmer Rouge were shelling the runway. Secondly, the pilot was having a nervous breakdown.

Armed with a Reader’s Digest expense account lavish beyond the dreams of avarice, Tony retreated to the comfort of Bangkok’s Oriental Hotel, where he booked into the Jim Thompson suite and wined and dined extravagantly with a diplomat contact at the Normandie Grill, knowing that if he eventually made it into Phnom Penh, accounting for expenses would be the least of his problems. The following day, he returned to the airport to be told that the pilot’s nerves had calmed sufficiently for the flight to take off into the rocket barrage, although the counter clerk cautioned: “It’s one-way. No return ticket.”

Tony took the flight anyway, wrote a beautiful feature on the despair, corruption and heroism on display during the death throes of the doomed city, then at the last minute decided to join the final evacuation so as to head back to Saigon to witness the  fall of the South Vietnamese capital some two weeks later.

A page from a 1979 edition of The Correspondent in which Tony Paul can be seen on the right. A page from a 1979 edition of The Correspondent in which Tony Paul can be seen on the right.

Anthony Marcus Paul was born in Brisbane, Australia, in 1937 and began his career on the local daily, The Courier Mail, in 1955. Proudly descended from convicts transported from England on the First Fleet of prison ships that arrived in Sydney in 1788 – one for stealing “a golden sixpence”, another for purloining 10 yards of cloth – Tony nevertheless decided his career prospects were better elsewhere. Arriving in the U.S. in the early 1960s, he met and married Anne, his wife of 53 years, and got a job at the Digest.

In 1972, the Digest posted him to Hong Kong, where his adventures really began. Asked once by an envious colleague how he acquired so many contacts in the region so quickly – especially amongst military brass and spooks – Tony replied that although he worked for an American publication, his Australian nationality had denied him the sort of access to CIA intelligence that U.S.-born reporters could expect. To compensate, he focused on wooing the intelligence services of U.S. allies in the region who were getting much of their information from the CIA anyway. In countries such as Thailand and South Korea, the young officers he cultivated in the Vietnam war years subsequently became powerful figures. Perhaps that was why Tony twice gained audiences with Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej and also interviewed the South Korean dictator Park Chung-hee.

Still, he didn’t give those contacts an easy ride. One of his first cover stories after he launched Asia Inc was on the business dealings of the Thai military, titled Khaki Commerce. The cover image was a sinister illustration of a hard-faced general.

Even when he was supposed to be sitting in an editor’s chair in Hong Kong, Tony couldn’t resist going back on the road. When one of his reporters, Bill Mellor, and a photographer, traveling under cover in northern Burma for Asia, Inc in 1993, discovered and photographed a starving chain gang of political prisoners digging a road from Kengtung to the Thai border, Tony realised he had a great cover story – Burma’s Road of Shame. But he also realised that more reporting was needed in the then capital, Rangoon – a city closed in those days to foreign reporters. With his news crew headed in the opposite direction for another urgent assignment across the border in China, Tony promptly jumped on a plane and flew to Rangoon to do the additional reporting himself.

Tony with wife Anne at their son Bruce's wedding Tony with wife Anne at their son Bruce’s wedding.

In countries that weren’t U.S. allies, Tony’s engaging personality served him well. In Hanoi and Beijing, for example, he could easily trade war stories with high-ranking government media minders even though they had been on the opposite sides of the front lines. When he received an invitation from Cambodia’s Prince Norodom Sihanouk to a party the then exiled monarch was throwing in Pyongyang, Tony woke up the North Korean ambassador to Beijing at 11pm the night before to obtain the necessary visa to attend. He got it.

Indeed, he could get almost anyone to open up. One of his more, shall we say, colourful contacts was an Asian intelligence agent operating under diplomatic cover who wasn’t averse to using force to extract confessions. “Extract” being the operative word. Tony nicknamed him Fingernails.

Tony is survived by his wife, Anne, a distinguished gemmologist who loves Asia and, particularly, Hong Kong, as much as Tony did. Their two sons are, Brodie, a Mandarin-speaking entrepreneur who has worked both in Shanghai and Australia, and Bruce, a pilot with Cathay Dragon. Between them, Bruce and Brodie and their wives have five children.

This obituary could go on forever. There are so many more anecdotes about Tony to tell. Most, though, are best retold, not here, but over drinks at the FCC bar or over the sort of long lunches Tony so much enjoyed.

Anne Paul would love that. In her announcement of Tony’s death, she noted that he didn’t want a memorial service because enough had been written and little more needed to be said.  “He would be pleased if you raised a glass to good memories,” she wrote. “In lieu of flowers, contributions to your favourite charity – or a good bottle of wine for yourselves.”

Tony Paul, RIP.

Kevin Egan: Friends, colleagues and students remember the legal eagle ‘so generous of heart’

Kevin Egan, the FCC’s 2nd Vice President, died on Sunday night following a battle with cancer. He was 70, writes Jane Moir.

Kevin Egan, a life member of the FCC and a long-standing board member. Photo: ©2018 Robin Moyer Kevin Egan, a life member of the FCC and a long-standing board member. Photo: ©2018 Robin Moyer

Fellow members, friends and colleagues paid tribute to Egan as a tenacious criminal advocate with a big heart whose legal skirmishes kept local newspapers in business over the years.

FCC President Florence de Changy led tributes to Egan, saying: “Kevin was one of these larger than life characters who would enter the Main Bar as he probably entered the Court room, with both panache and focus, always ready for a good argument and/or a nice drink.

“Kevin joined the Club in 1980 and served on the Board of Governors for 21 years on and off since 1993. Board Governors were all looking forward to working with him as second V-P and Secretary of the Club. The FCC will miss him very much and will remember him fondly.”

Born in Australia, the head of Baskerville Chambers joined the Bar in Queensland in 1972. He arrived in Hong Kong more than 35 years ago after serving as Director of Public Prosecutions in Papua New Guinea where he prosecuted justice minister Nahau Rooney for contempt.

Egan worked as a prosecutor in Hong Kong’s then Legal Department, serving as deputy principal Crown Counsel before being admitted to the Hong Kong Bar in 1990. He found himself in the dock shortly after, battling ICAC charges that he furnished corrupt ex-prosecutor Warwick Reid with a gun and aided his bolt from Hong Kong.

He emerged victorious, but again crossed swords with anti-corruption enforcers in 2006 when he was jailed for perverting the course of justice. In 2009, Hong Kong’s highest court quashed the conviction but only after he had served jail time. During his stint in Stanley Prison, Egan described being ‘put to work’ by inmates, drafting appeals with the aid of a photographic memory of Hong Kong ordinances.

Personal victories aside, Egan championed both glitterati and impecunious alike, adjusting his fees accordingly. After a hard day at the Bar he would take up residence at his second home, establishing himself as a life member of the FCC and a long-standing board member.

A canny raconteur, fellow board members remember him fondly for his pragmatic approach to Club politics. “He was one of my favorite board members,” says former FCC president Tom Mitchell, Beijing bureau chief for the Financial Times.

“I always trusted his gruff, no-nonsense legal advice, which was extremely valuable to the club. I also found him a great ally in my never-ending struggle to contain the board meetings to my usual 90-minute target. Like me, Kevin had no patience for the odd member of the board who greatly enjoyed the sound of his or her own voice and was happy to spend 2+ hours of their Saturday morning locked up in a board meeting.”

I have never met a Counsel so generous of heart. He would structure his fees depending on the client. He would say to me his father would say ‘one day it’s a lamb shank the next day a bone’. He would always take up a cause for an underdog.

Former President Tara Joseph commented: “Kevin will be sorely missed. I will always glance over at the back right hand corner of the Main Bar and look for him as he had such a steady presence there, surrounded by fellow barristers or watching the sports on TV.

“In the years I served on the board I took a special delight in seeing what T-shirt Kevin would rock up in to Saturday board meetings. On weekdays Kevin was usually in a characteristic conservative suit. On Saturdays she showed up in T-shirts advertising heavy metal rock bands. I think it cheered him up on a Saturday morning. Kevin loved the FCC. It was clearly a second home.”

Those who worked with Egan recall his Robin Hood approach to briefs. “I have never met a Counsel so generous of heart. He would structure his fees depending on the client. He would say to me his father would say ‘one day it’s a lamb shank the next day a bone’. He would always take up a cause for an underdog,” says solicitor Kevin Steel.

“His success rate at court was second to none when the bullets were fed to him by a well-prepared team. There are literally thousands of clients who have their liberty because of Kevin’s dedication to his craft and his hard-working ethic.

“To me he was as Senior as any counsel could be without the letters SC. Fearless in defending his clients, a challenge to a solicitor who would sometimes have to rein in the sheer exuberance.

He will be sorely missed by all of the legal community but his legacy is in the HK law reports. Just type in Kevin Egan and it’s plain to see.”

Egan’s former pupils remember him as a breath of fresh air in a rigid profession. Pupils who turned up on their first day in traditional barrister attire were instantly chastised for non-adherence to his dress code of obligatory jeans and T-shirt.

The barrister had a strict ‘KISS’ principle, his succinct style putting even the most nervous client at ease. “He was welcoming and helpful to his pupils and junior members of the Bar,” says former pupil Shaphan Marwah. “Kevin took pride in being a fearless advocate. He was feared and respected.”

Egan was horse racing enthusiast and keen shooter. When once asked by an Australian newspaper what kept him in Hong Kong, he replied: “The lifestyle, the money and to be honest, the tax regime.”

Former SCMP court reporter Charlotte Parsons noted: “No-one can ever accuse him of having a dull life. It is hard to imagine the FCC without him.”

A more in-depth tribute to Kevin Egan will appear in the October-December edition of The Correspondent. In the meantime, please send us your memories and anecdotes of Kevin – [email protected]

Kevin was a force to be reckoned with and the mere mention of his name would bring fear to his opponents in court. Some years ago I asked Kevin if he could represent me in a civil action against a Malaysian company. He agreed saying : “I don’t normally do civil cases, but I’m a bloody good litigator.” I instructed my solicitors to proceed with Kevin at the helm, but did not like my choice of a criminal lawyer. They notified the defence accordingly and they gave up immediately when hearing that Kevin was to be my representative. Such was the power of his name. Vale Kevin.

Mark Pinkstone


Kev did not normally take breakfast at the Club before going to court but he did on Monday, 12 June 2006. While he didn’t expect a guilty verdict from Judge Fung he told me he was prepared to have to play the long game. It turned out to be a little longer than expected – Kev had expected it would take 4 weeks for his bail and when I saw him in Stanley 6 weeks later he said it was all getting a little tedious. Whatever fears might have been running through his mind at that point, he was nothing but courageous and an example to us all of calm, fortitude and realism. He was no different when I saw him with Bonnie returning on the bus to Happy Valley from a visit to the Queen Mary Hospital only weeks before he died and I have no doubt he is resting in peace. God bless you, Kev.

John Brewer


 

Obituary: Ian Stewart, foreign correspondent and ex-FCC president

Ian Stewart, father, grandfather, foreign correspondent, FCC president, author, China watcher, adventurer and authority on Southeast Asian politics and culture, passed away peacefully in Sydney recently.

Ian spent a total of 36 years working as a Foreign Correspondent and author in Southeast Asia and was a passionate believer in the free press and freedom of expression. He served two terms as the president of the Foreign Correspondent’s Club, Hong Kong, in 1963-1964 and 1971-1972. He was also president of the Foreign Correspondents Association of Singapore for three terms.

Born in Whangarei, New Zealand in 1928, he went to Auckland University before starting his career in journalism at the New Zealand Herald as a cadet. He then worked for both the Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Herald before coming to Hong Kong as a stringer for Reuters 1954.

Ian was posted to Indonesia in 1955 where he meet his wife Truus The Tiang Nio and married her before quitting Reuters to return to Hong Kong to work as freelance writer in 1957. After another stint in Indonesia he joined the New York Times in 1959 and for the next 14 years reported on Mao Tse-tung’s China.

He and his family moved to Sydney in 1980 where he worked in public relations and publishing, while writing his own novels, a musical and two film scripts. Ian was the author of seven published novels and two historical works. His first novel, “The Peking Pay-off” was published in 1975 and his last, “ The lust of Comrade Lu”, in 2014.

Ian moved back to Asia in 1991, first to Singapore and then Kuala Lumpur, where he filed for The Australian, The Daily Telegraph (London), South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), with occasional radio spots for the ABC, BBC and Deutsche Welle until returning to Sydney in 2001.

Ian is well remembered by the older members of the FCC for his work as club president and his entertaining FCC Folk Night performances at Sutherland House in the 1970s.  A fan of Bob Dylan, Peter Paul and Mary and Woody Guthrie Ian wrote his own songs in a similar genre commenting on current events, colleagues and his work. The chorus below is typical of the lyrics that kept his performances lively, entertaining and very popular.

“We’re the China Watchers of Hong Kong

We’re never, never, never, never wrong.

We may sometimes not be right

But it’s just an oversight

And we’ll certainly correct it ere too long.”

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