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Hong Kong's 'unofficial mayor' Hilton Cheong-Leen dies at 99

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Hong Kong's 'unofficial mayor' Hilton Cheong-Leen passed away peacefully at the age of 99. Screenshot via SCMP/YouTube
Hong Kong's 'unofficial mayor' Hilton Cheong-Leen passed away peacefully at the age of 99. Screenshot via SCMP/YouTube

Jan. 4 (UPI) -- Hong Kong's "unofficial mayor" Hilton Cheong-Leen died Tuesday at age 99.

Cheong-Leen was a former Urban Council chairman and lawmaker who co-founded the Hong Kong Civic Association in 1954.

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He died around 4 a.m. on Tuesday morning while asleep in his home. The cause of death was old age, according to his family.

A prominent politician and businessman, Cheong-Leen was born to a Chinese immigrant family in Georgetown, British Guiana in 1922. He moved to Hong Kong when he was 9.

Cheong-Leen served as an elected member of the Urban Council for 34 years between 1957 and 1991, making him the longest uninterrupted serving elected officeholder in the history of Hong Kong.

He became the first Chinese Chairman of the Council from 1981 to 1986, earning the nickname "Hong Kong's mayor."

He became an unofficial member of the Legislative Council of Hong Kong on May 1, 1973 -- a position appointed by then-governor Sir Murray MacLehose.

Cheong-Leen was known for calling for a ban on child labor in factories and restaurants in Hong Kong.

He pushed to replace substandard rooftops on schools, which resulted in the government offering nine years of free education starting in 1978.

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