Leslie Cheung's last phone call

HONG KONG - A desire to preserve his dignity at death could have been why pop star Leslie Cheung called his manager, and not his lover, before he jumped to his death from a Hong Kong hotel in 2003.

Ahead of Sunday's concert marking the 10th anniversary of his death, his former manager Florence Chan said she believed Cheung phoned her as she was strong and calm enough to manage effectively the aftermath - so sparing him the indignity of any paparazzi photo of his body appearing in the media.

"At the least I had to protect his dignity," Ms Chan told Apple Daily Hong Kong in an interview, saying that could have been what the superstar wanted her to do when he called her that afternoon of April 1, asking her to meet him at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

She agreed that Cheung, 46, might also have worried that his lover Daffy Tong could become too sad to handle his affairs after the death. "More serious things" might happen, added Ms Chan, who had been Cheung's friend for 22 years.

His time of death was also two seconds after the reported 6.41pm, she added. "I had just looked at my watch, when (the fall) happened," she said.

She said she was checking her watch all the time while waiting for him at the hotel. He last phoned her to go to the hotel entrance where he fell.

Apple Daily identified the suite on the hotel's 24th floor from which, it said, Cheung fell. It said he wore a suit and fell onto a canopy on the second storey before hitting the street. It had been previously reported that Cheung jumped from the hotel gymnasium.

Talk was that he was battling depression because of showbusiness pressure but his eldest sister Ophelia recently told RTHK radio that his doctor said the cause was a physiological, chemical imbalance in his brain.

She said Cheung would tell her initially, "Why would I have depression? I have money and many people love me, and I'm happy", and would not take his medicine. He would call her, saying, "I'm still not well, please come over."

To escape the paparazzi, he also had his doctor visit him at his sister's house.

The memorial concert featuring stars such as Jacky Cheung, Leung Chiu Wai and Joey Yung at the Hong Kong Coliseum will air in Singapore on Saturday over TVBJ (StarHub TV Channel 838) at 10pm.


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