SPOTLIGHT: LESLIE CHEUNG
Depressed for 20 long years
EVEN as Leslie Cheung's friends, fans and perfect strangers wonder why he took his life, reports reveal that he might have been suffering from depression for 20 years. China's Sina news website said yesterday that the Hongkong actor-singer mentioned his condition as early as 1987, while writing his autobiography. In it, he said: 'I remember that a few years earlier, each time I met my friends, they would ask me why I was unhappy. I think I could be suffering from depression. The cause of my ailment is my dissatisfaction with myself, my dissatisfaction with others, and even more dissatisfaction with the world.' Sina said the root of his depression extended back to the late 1970s and the early 1980s, when neither his work nor his love life was going well.
His boyfriend, Tong Hock Tak, also believed he was depressed. The former banker, whose eyes were swollen from crying, stood at the door of his apartment on Wednesday morning and gave an impromptu news conference to the Hongkong media. He said: 'Our relationship of more than 10 years has been good all along. There's never been a third party. I've never changed towards him. I knew he was depressed. I spent a lot of time with him, counselling him'.
'Cheung might have killed himself because of 'career hindrances', he said. He added: 'There're many things, it's complicated. I know why but I will not tell. Let's see if his family wants to tell. We'll give the fans and the public an explanation later.'
Apple Daily said Cheung, who was worth at least HK$300 million (S$67.5 million), wrote a will late last year, after an unsuccessful bid to take his life by swallowing sleeping pills. He was said to have willed most of his property to Tong, who made him richer through the years by making wise investments in real estate and funds. Cheung's assets included three cars and a HK$2 million holiday home in Chiangmai, Thailand. He kept his relationship with Tong secret for years, United Daily News said, to protect the latter's banking career. Cheung was said to have gone public with his romance only after Tong gave up his job for love.
During the conference on Wednesday, Tong also blasted newspapers for making up reports that other men had come between Cheung and himself. Turning to a man beside him, he said: 'Even my driver of more than 10 years here - you snap two photographs of us together and say he is my boyfriend, taking me out.'
Yesterday, Tong took out an obituary, using a line from Cheung's song, Who Sympathises: 'Quiet night, who sympathises?' The last line of the obituary read: 'Bosom friend Tong Hock Tak bids a teary farewell.' Reports said Cheung's family is applying for him to be exempted from an autopsy. The wake will be on Monday and the cremation on Tuesday. Cheung's peers, like singer Karen Mok and band Beyond, cancelled news conferences on Wednesday, out of respect. But Hongkong Film Awards organisers announced that they would press on with the event on Sunday and added that as yet, there was no plan to give Cheung a posthumous achievement award.
THE FINAL HOURS
March 31, 4 pm to April 1, dawn: Cheung played mahjong with showbiz friends, including singer Eliza Chan.
10 am: Left for lunch date with designer friend, Mok Wah Ping, and made a date with boyfriend Tong Hock Tak to play badminton in the afternoon.
11 am: Drove to meet Mok. At lunch, appeared concerned about Sars and asked Mok to wear a mask, too.
4 pm: Called former agent Chan Suk Fan on mobile to meet him for tea at fourth-floor cafe of Mandarin Oriental.
4 pm to 6 pm: Chan arrived at cafe and waited.
4.30 pm: Cheung worked out in 24th-floor gym. Went out to balcony and asked for fruit juice. The waiter serving him saw that his hands were shaking. Cheung looked out on Victoria Harbour.
6.30 pm: Asked waiter for pen and paper. Scrawled suicide note.
6.30 pm: Chan called Cheung on mobile phone. He said he was parking his car and asked her to meet him outside hotel.
6.41 pm: Cheung, wearing T-shirt and blazer, leapt to his death.
6.45 pm: A passer-by saw Cheung's body on Connaught Road and called the police. Chan, who passed by, said: 'This could be my friend.'
RISING SALES FOR ALBUMS OF FALLEN STAR
Nothing is as certain as taxes and death - and the mad, mad, rush for a fallen star's CDs. Leslie Cheung's musical career might have screeched to a halt, but demand for his CDs is escalating. A check with nine music retailers in town - in the Orchard, Suntec and City Hall areas - shows an islandwide sell-out of the singer's albums since Tuesday night. All these stores have placed repeat orders with suppliers, and are expecting new shipment to hit their stores within the week. Places like HMV, Tower and Gramophone have received between 20 and 60 enquiries each for Cheung's albums since news broke. HMV is reporting a re-kindled interest in the singer's earlier movies, meaning more VCDs and DVDs would be stocked soon. Cheung has had more than 20 Cantonese and Mandarin albums released over a 23-year singing career.
A Rock Records spokesman said that on Wednesday, they had to rush out some remaining 5,000 copies of Cheung's albums to float among the retailers. He does not expect them to last more than two to three days. Universal, which houses Cheung's more recent releases, too, are scrambling to put out a 'few thousand albums', including his Greatest Hits, by next week. Cheung was said to be working on new material, which was supposed to be released later this year.A Universal Singapore spokesman confirmed plans for the new album - of which progress remains unknown - but said the record company is now awaiting directives from Universal Hongkong regarding any Cheung releases.
The recent deaths of artistes like Hongkong singer Roman Tam and the Bee Gee's Maurice Gibb may have nudged interest in their albums, but nothing has been on the scale of Cheung. As Dean Rahim, 29, general manager of Tower Records, puts it: 'Leslie Cheung is a superstar, an Asian performing legend, and many people, especially working adults, grew up with him. The demand for his albums now is very strong.'
CATCH HIM ON TV
The untimely death of Leslie Cheung on Tuesday has sent staff at SPH MediaWorks, MediaCorp, and StarHub Cable TV into a scramble to air shows on or featuring the late Hongkong entertainer. Tonight's TGIF on Channel 8 at 8 pm takes a break from its variety show format to include a look-back at his life. Channel U has also lined up four movies starring the actor-singer over the next four Saturdays. Over at StarHub, Ms Andrea Tay, senior manager of programming, said her department has been going the extra mile to ensure that, starting tomorrow, its subscribers 'enjoy a variety of Cheung-related programmes - from retrospectives to drama serials to live concerts and movies'. (...)
from The Straits Times Asia