Hong Kong handover: The sun sets on Lily Wong's world

Hong Kong's civil servants tend to view life under Chinese sovereignty with a certain apprehension, and none more so than Lily Wong, writes Teresa Poole.

What does the future now hold? In the first instance, a decent holiday to recover from all those fireworks. Lily's the sort of girl who likes the idea of lounging around on the beach on Australia's Gold Coast, says her creator, Larry Feign.

As readers of The Independent know, Lily was rescued from premature retirement when this newspaper decided she was the right person to guide us through the final 100 days of British rule in Hong Kong. The cartoon strip - The World of Lily Wong - has appeared daily.

Lily became persona non grata in the territory in May 1995, when the South China Morning Post abruptly cancelled Mr Feign's contract, prior to publication of a strip which dealt with the use of executed Chinese prisoners for organ transplants.

Mr Feign, 41, yesterday said he had been delighted at the 100-day reprieve. "It has been a chance to finish the story. I feel a great sense of completion, not least because she had become such a real person."Since ties were severed by the South China Morning Post, Mr Feign has found it impossible to get work in Hong Kong. "I've been blacklisted, I can't even find work doing illustrations for a company brochure," he said.

So Mr Feign, and his Hong Kong wife and baby, intend to leave - like Lily Wong - but to where, who knows?

While the Lily Wong series for The Independent ends this morning, she can still be reached through her web-page: www.asiaonline.net/lilywong

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