Top Bauhinia a farewell gift for Tsang's main man

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2007, 12:00am

Rafael Hui Si-yan, who steps down as chief secretary today, is to be given Hong Kong's top honour, the Grand Bauhinia Medal.

He is among three former ministers in Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's cabinet in the honours list to be officially announced today. The others are Patrick Ho Chi-ping and Sarah Liao Sau-tung, who will both receive the Gold Bauhinia Star.

Mr Hui has been praised for making a significant contribution to Hong Kong's development and helping steer the government through many and varied challenges. He also is said to have ensured co-ordination in the formulation of policies and their implementation.

Mr Hui is one of four recipients of the top award. The others are Legislative Council president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, Executive Councillor David Li Kwok-po and property tycoon Lee Shau-kee.

Two newcomers to Mr Tsang's cabinet, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung and Chan Ka-keung, who take up the post as Secretary for Labour and Welfare and Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, are to be awarded Gold and Silver Bauhinia Stars.

Four Democratic Party members are being honoured - the largest number from the party since the handover. They are the party's two vice-chairmen - Sin Chung-kai and Tik Chi-yuen - and Kam Nai-wai and Ching Cheung-ying.

Giving awards to Democratic Party members was seen as a government move to improve relations with the party, said Mr Tik.

'But there is a distance in mutual trust between the SAR government and the party. We still have different views on a lot of issues. I think both sides need to do more to improve the relationship.'

He said he would rather surrender the award in exchange for the issuing of home-return permits to the party's core members. Most of the party's core members were not issued with the permit after being deemed enemies of Beijing.

Mr Tik, who has a home-return permit, is to receive a Bronze Bauhinia Star for his contribution to promoting the well-being of the elderly and in assisting the disadvantaged in the community. Mr Sin is to be awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star, and Mr Kam and Mr Ching will receive the Medal of Honour.

A total of 286 people are honoured this year, nine more than last year. Eighteen people from the Fire Services Department and Government Flying Service are to get medals, the largest number since the handover.

Fireman Wong Ka-hei, who died fighting a blaze in Tsuen Wan in May, and senior fireman Chin Kwok-ming, who was critically injured in the blaze, are to be awarded the Medal for Bravery (Gold). Wong's elder sister said: 'We lost Ka-hei but we're proud of his bravery.'

Some 22 sportsmen, sportswomen and coaches are on the honours list. Prominent figures in the performing arts also are receiving awards. Wucius Wong will get the Bronze Bauhinia Star for his contributions to the development and promotion of the arts, especially in ink painting and design education.

The oldest award winner will be Chan Fook-lai, 92, praised for his contribution to the development of the photographic arts. Recommendations for honours and awards are approved by the chief executive. The presentation ceremony is in October.