Josephine Tsang Sau-ho, Islands District Councillor, has been found dead in her Peng Chau office.
Police were called to the office on Wing On Street at 1.23pm on 1 May, where they found Tsang in an upstairs bathroom. She was certified dead at the scene. No suicide note was left, according to police, who say they will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
Tsang, 62, had been an independent member of the Islands District council since September 2014, elected with 55% of the vote in a by-election after former councillor On Hing-ying died of prostate cancer.
As member for the Peng Chau & Hei Ling Chau constituency, Tsang had worked on a number of issues, including road safety and illegal access to Keng Shan Road on Lantau, issues of kai to operators being unsupported by the government and the overly-bureaucratic approach to ambulance use for elderly on Peng Chau.
But Tsang, who also worked as a security manager for the Yat Tung Estate, was also deeply involved in mental health issues, claiming local government-funded NGOs were not pulling their weight.
In 2020, she said she’d seen around 60-70 people, many elderly, “plunging to their deaths” on Yat Tung Estate since 2006, and that each case had been carefully followed up by the District Council. But funded NGOs, particularly in Tung Chung and Peng Chau, had delivered unsatisfactory performance for patients suffering from mental illness, mood disorder and chronic illnesses “even though the government provided them with adequate resources,” she said.
In fact, Tsang had warned that while District Councillors were not professionally trained to handle mental illnesses, they had been left to shoulder a lot of responsibility for mental health issues in the community and may not be handling cases in the best way. Tsang was a firm believer that proper treatment could cure mental health issues, if people had access to such resources.
Tsang, Vice Chair of the Tourism, Agriculture, Fisheries, Environmental Hygiene and Climate Change Committee, was also known for a wry sense of humour at council meetings.
When the government proposed an annual Chinese chess tournament to solve problems of gambling amongst elderly in public housing estates, Tsang remarked this would not solve the problem unless the “competition was held every day or if chess gambling was legalised”.
It is not clear if Tsang’s seat will be re-contested with a by-election. The Islands District Council was already five members short: in October 2021, the government removed two members after considering their oaths of office to be “invalid” while three others resigned in July 2021 in the face of government threats to disqualify and penalise councillors.