Family of tragic student appeals for help

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Family of tragic student appeals for help

10th August 2009

The parents of tragic Oxford undergraduate Tsz Fok - who was knocked down and killed in an accident two years ago - are appealing for members of the Hong Kong and Chinese communities to help them in their fight for justice.

Tsz (pronounced 'Chi') was just 22 when he was killed by a refuse collection wagon while cycling in Oxford, where he was studying engineering, economics and management at the prestigious Worcester College. His death in 2007 was widely publicised as he was one of the country's most promising young students.

He had secured his place at Oxford with 10 A-Levels, including eight 'A' grades, and had just published a widely-regarded booklet featuring interviews with 20 leading figures in science and engineering as part of his studies.

But the tragedy that robbed Anna and King Fok of their brilliant young son has also robbed them of future security, as Hong Kong culture would have seen the financial sacrifices they made to ensure Tsz achieved his potential being repaid by him throughout his working life.

Now, solicitors acting on behalf of the family are hoping members of the Hong Kong and Chinese communities will come forward to help prove how Tsz's death has placed a massive financial burden on the family.

Stephen Warren, a personal injury specialist with Fentons Solicitors LLP, explained that Hong Kong culture held firm to the principle that children supported their families once they embarked on a career.

"This is a tradition that has been honoured for generations," he said.

"Tsz's parents helped finance his education, helped pay for his housing, food and living expenses, and it was understood that once he had graduated and started work he would help support them financially," he said. "While the loss of a child is difficult for any family to bear, in Hong Kong culture it unfortunately also means the loss of your future security.

"This is not just a case of thinking about 'what might have been'," said Stephen. "For generations, it has been understood that when you have children you make sacrifices for them, and when the child has finished their education and goes to work - particularly as in this case Tsz was an only son - the child helps to support their parents wherever possible.

"Mr Fok had even planned his retirement, as it was expected Tsz would complete his final year at University and soon be earning enough in the engineering field to help support them," he said. "But following his son's death in April 2007, he has been unable to afford to stop working at his job in Hong Kong."

The couple, who have a home in Birmingham but now spend most of their time in Hong Kong, are pursuing a legal claim against the refuse wagon driver's insurance company. They are now hoping other members of the Hong Kong and Chinese community will come forward and reinforce the importance of the tradition.

"While the cynical may form the view that Mr and Mrs Fok should have planned for their own future, that is to not understand their culture," said Stephen. "In essence, preparing for the future is exactly what they did do by supporting Tsz's education. Now they have lost both their only son and possible future financial security, through no fault of their own."

Can you help?
If you can help Mr and Mrs Fok confirm the Hong Kong tradition of supporting elders, please contact Fentons Solicitors LLP on freephone 0800 019 1297 and ask for Stephen Warren, or contact him by post at 55 Princess Street, Manchester, M2 4EW, or e-mail stephen.warren@fentons.co.uk.

Media coverage - BBC; Birmingham Mail; Daily Mail