Husband of Coco Lee to apply for inquest into her death to dispel rumours

Bruce Rockowitz, husband of the late Hong Kong star, is seeking the inquest to be able to clear his name from rumours circulating that he was to blame for Lee’s decision.

Denise Tsang and Ng Kang-Chung

Denise Tsang and Ng Kang-Chung

the star


Canadian businessman Bruce Rockowitz (seen above) plans to make public the reasons she died, an insider said. PHOTO: THE STAR

August 11, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR – The husband of late Hong Kong pop celebrity Coco Lee plans to turn to the Coroner’s Court to seek an inquest into the cause of her death in a bid to dispel rumours, the Post learned on Monday.

Bruce Rockowitz, a Canadian businessman, planned to do so to find out and make public the reasons she died, an insider said.

The insider said the move was aimed at clearing his name from rumours circulating that he was to blame for Lee’s decision to end her life.

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Several angry fans from mainland China confronted Rockowitz at the cremation at Cape Collinson Crematorium in Chai Wan on August 1 and called him a “murderer”.

“Queen Mary Hospital told Bruce Rockowitz and the Lee family the cause of death, but the murderer rumours are still spreading around, especially in China,” the insider explained.

The late singer’s sister, Nancy, told the Post that the family was awaiting a full autopsy report on Lee.

“When we met the coroner, we requested a full autopsy report on the death of Coco. The report could take four to six months to complete.”

Lee died on July 5 at Queen Mary Hospital in Pok Fu Lam after she was admitted in the wake of an attempt to take her own life on July 2.

Suicide is among 20 types of death listed as reportable to the Coroner’s Court, but that does not guarantee an inquest will be held.

The judiciary said “properly interested persons”, including the family of the deceased, can apply to the Court of First Instance of the High Court for an inquest to be held.

Some lawyers said the coroner would possibly consider if there were any special circumstances that would make an inquest necessary.

“He is the husband and of course he can apply for an inquest into the manner and cause of death of Coco,” barrister Albert Luk Wai-hung said.

“But if it was a suicide, then it was a suicide. Unless there were signs that some medical blunder could be involved.

“But in this case, there seems to be no suspicious circumstances.”

Luk added Lee’s sisters or mother might not want an inquest to protect the privacy of the singer and her family.

“Holding an inquest could mean putting everything under the microscope. Sometimes, to show respect to their beloved one, family members are reluctant to have an inquest,” Luk explained.

Husband of late Hong Kong star Coco Lee speaks out after singer’s fans confront him
Terry Kan Wing-fai, also a barrister, agreed with Luk’s assessment.

“If the husband insists, the coroner would probably heed his request for an inquest,” Kan said. “But I think the husband may need to give a good reason for his application, given there are no suspicious circumstances.”

Rockowitz, 64, told the Post recently that he and Lee had a 20-year relationship before she died at age 48.

The couple, who had no children, were married in a glamorous Hong Kong ceremony in 2011.

Lee moved out of the couple’s home in Southern district in October last year and into one of two penthouses at the Four Seasons Place serviced apartments in the International Finance Centre in Central.

Lee had breast cancer last year.

The source added Lee had leg surgery in February and needed to take medication for her muscles, but the singer did not appear to be suicidal at the time.

An insider told the Post on Friday that Rockowitz had paid the rent on the penthouse, which cost HK$800,000 a month.

The bill exceeded HK$8 million and he was still paying for the flat, the insider said.

A separate source said Lee was first found to be unwell on June 30 and stayed in hospital overnight. She was discharged on July 1 and moved into her sister Carol’s home on The Peak. She attempted suicide the next day.

Rockowitz flew back from the United States on July 5 to see Lee for the last time in hospital.

Fans confront late Hong Kong singer Coco Lee’s husband at crematorium
He came to Hong Kong in 1979 from Boston when he was 20 and settled down in the city as a tennis pro.

He became a billionaire in 2000 when he and Allan Zeman, the mastermind of the Lan Kwai Fong entertainment precinct in Central, sold the supply chain management venture, Colby Group Holdings, which they co-owned, for HK$2.2 billion to Li & Fung.

Rockowitz is co-founder of the Pure Group fitness chain and a director of technology consultancy firm Step Digital Group.

Lee shot to global fame in 2001 after she performed “A Love Before Time”, from Ang Lee’s award-winning film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, at the Oscars.

She was the first, and so far only, artist of her ethnicity to perform at the star-studded annual awards event.

Lee was also the first Chinese singer to be signed by Sony Music globally.

If you have suicidal thoughts, or you know someone who is, help is available. For Hong Kong, dial +852 2896 0000 for The Samaritans or +852 2382 0000 for Suicide Prevention Services. In the US, call the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or +1 800 273 8255. For a list of other nations’ helplines, see this page.

More from South China Morning Post:

Late Hong Kong pop diva Coco Lee’s husband Bruce Rockowitz ‘paid HK$8 million to rent penthouse for singer’
Hong Kong bids farewell to trailblazing Chinese singer Coco Lee, remembered as kind, loyal and gracious
‘Gone too soon’: tributes for Coco Lee as Hong Kong pop diva’s family, friends and fans gather for memorial service
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