Ah Bun: Never give up

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 November, 2007, 12:00am

Tang Siu-pun, 37, a quadriplegic, wanted to end his life and urged the government to look into euthanasia three years ago.

He even wrote a book on the subject. But after it was published this summer, he changed his mind about ending his life and rediscovered hope.

The aspiring sports teacher, known as Ah Bun, was left paralysed from the neck down after a gymnastics accident during rehearsals for a graduation ceremony. Since the accident in 1991, he has been confined to a hospital bed and had lost hope in life. He wrote an open letter to the government in 2003, asking that euthanasia be legalised, which raised widespread public concern and debate on the issue.

He then spent two years writing his memoir, which was published as a book - I Want Euthanasia - this summer. It chronicles his life as a young sportsman, the somersault accident that put him in a hospital bed for 13 years and his letter to former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa.

More than 10,000 copies of his 300-page book have been sold. After its success he realised that, 'If you try, you can make it'.

He has emerged from his dark corner of despair with a renewed sense of hope. He is no longer confined to bed and uses a wheelchair.

On October 27, he visited the Hong Kong Institute of Education (HKIEd) where he shared his inspiration with students. 'I still have a useful brain, which should not be affected by my paralysed body,' Ah Bun said.

The writing process was a struggle. 'I never thought I could write a 120,000-word book. [Despite my paralysed body] I realised that I could still do something not everyone is capable of doing,' he said.

He offered encouragement to students, saying that everyone is born with a talent which is not limited to actions - there are one's thoughts as well.

Ah Bun used the launch of the Chang'e I, China's first lunar orbiter, as an example. He said its flight to the moon was no longer a fairy tale and nothing is impossible. 'Don't just think, once you are willing to act, you must make it happen,' he said.

Although he still supports euthanasia, he does not want to end his own life.

'I plan to do something big. I will not give up on what I've decided to do. I still have a lot to do,' he said. Ah Bun is determined to live life to the full. Before, he rejected assistance. 'I used to refuse the help offered by others. I'd rather sleep all day instead of asking for help.'

When Ah Bun was writing his book, many people supported him, helping to change his attitude. 'I won't reject their help now and I sometimes even seek help from others,' he said. Ah Bun hopes people will actively seek out the needy and help them.

HKIEd student Hui Ngai-kai, 22, said he was happy to meet Ah Bun who has inspired him. 'Even though Ah Bun's situation is so bad, he can still do what he wants. From him, I learned that we should act ... We should not wait to be filled with regret when we are unable to do what we want,' Hui said.

During a tour of the HKIEd's sports facilities with Ah Bun, Hui said: 'I found he was more optimistic and had a more positive attitude than I thought he would. He is also very nice and cheerful.'

Hui will use Ah Bun's story to encourage others to think positively about life.