The Spirit of Hong Kong Awards is one of the highlights of South China Morning Post’s Celebrating Hong Kong initiative, inspired by their 110th Year Anniversary. The awards are the culmination of seven months of editorial features about unsung heroes, and were given to ten individuals that were selected by a panel of VIP judges, with an 11th award selected by reader poll, voted the People’s Choice Award.
The awards recognise everyday unsung heroes, individuals who have inspired others with their extraordinary achievements, dedication to a cause, acts of kindness or community spirit. “The Spirit of Hong Kong Awards stand for the spirit of people who have made Hong Kong what she is today, that can-do spirit, that perseverance, that never-give-up spirit, in a very low profile manner; they are not people seeking glory, vanity or publicity” remarked Mrs Lam.
Sir David Akers-Jones, the Chairman of the Judging Panel of the awards made an emotional speech in which he lamented not being able to award all the thousands of deserving, ordinary people, who quietly each day represent the spirit of our city; from bamboo scaffolders to tram drivers, and from doctors and nurses to those struggling through great hardship.
The winners included heroes such as Lee Ming-sun, who made a tough decision to rescue a drowning man during the Lamma ferry disaster last year rather than search for his wife. Carmen Yau Ka-man, a victim of the degenerative disease Spinal Muscular Atrophy, gave a stirring speech about using what little time she has left with the use of her limbs to help others who are worse off. Despite suffering a disease that will ultimately deprive her of all muscle function, she travels daily to work, often waiting 45 minutes or longer at a bus stop for a bus with wheelchair access.
Blind student Mandy Tsang Tsz-kwan, who is also hearing impaired and lacks sensitivity in her fingers, scored top marks in her exams despite having to study by lip-reading Braille. “I was not born with the spirit of Hong Kong. Rather, it is the result of the nurturing of my parents, my alma maters, my teachers …all their help and support has fostered my positive attitude and determination” she remarked in her exceptionally mature and poignant speech, “having gone through all the challenges all these years, I must keep up my efforts in order not to waste all the efforts of the people around me who have nurtured me wholeheartedly.”
Two senior gentlemen won the evening’s last two awards. Pastor Lee Mo Fan, an octogenarian who has spent over half a century providing shelter and care for elderly men who are abandoned by their families and forced to live rough, welcomed to his homes any elderly men that the audience witnessed needing help. Kan Yiu Kwong, erstwhile telephone repairman, visited a disaster struck Sichuan in 1994, only to find his help was not needed. However, he saw crumbling buildings and decided to assemble groups of friends to help him build schools in Yunnan and Guizhou provinces, some of the poorest, most inhospitable and remote regions, where he has to this day built over 1100 schools and 250 clinics.
The Spirit of Hong Kong initiative, sponsored by Sino Group, went further than the hundred-plus editorial stories published by the South China Morning Post. Net proceeds from its sponsorship also resulted in a charitable donation of HK$750,000 to three charities focused on the poorest in Hong Kong, SoCo, Tung Wah Group of Hospitals and St James’ Settlement, selected as charity partners for SCMP’s Celebrating Hong Kong programme of activities.
Full list of winners
Lamma ferry disaster hero
Director of services for Mothers’ Choice
Willy Law Wai-cheung
Disabled rights advocate
Grace Charity foundation builder of 1100 schools and 250 clinics in rural China.
Top scoring blind, hearing and touch-impaired student
Elsa Tse Ngar-yee
Ex-addict who helps young female drug abusers
Carmen Yau Ka-man
SMA sufferer dedicated to helping others
Jenny Law Chun-heung
Beautician who has given free haircuts for 27 years for the sick and elderly
Pastor Lee Mo Fan
Sheltering homeless elderly men for over 50 years.
Elana Ho Tsao Yuk-lan
Founder of Starfish Charitable Foundation, giving free cleft palate, heart disease and other operations to poor children in China.
Winner of People’s Choice Award
Bear bile trade activist and Dr Dog programme
About SCMP Group Ltd
SCMP Group Limited (SEHK: 583) is a leading newspaper and magazine publisher in Asia. Its flagship publication, South China Morning Post, is Hong Kong’s internationally recognised English language newspaper and has the city’s most affluent and influential readership.
First published in 1903, the newspaper has developed an enviable reputation for authoritative, influential and independent reporting on Hong Kong, China and the rest of Asia. Available in print, iPad™ and online through scmp.com and e-reader editions, South China Morning Post reaches a global audience with daily breaking news, analysis and opinion, multimedia articles and interactive forums. The South China Morning Post received 64 awards in 2012 for excellence in editorial, marketing and technical capability. Other titles in the Group include the Sunday Morning Post, the Chinese editions of Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, ELLE, ELLE Men, Esquire and CosmoGirl!, HK Magazine, The List, Where Hong Kong, and Where Chinese玩儿.
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