Home affairs minister recommends hero get HK's top bravery award

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 April, 2010, 12:00am

The home affairs minister has recommended that a Hong Kong volunteer who died while trying to save victims of the Qinghai quake be awarded the city's top honour for bravery.

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing yesterday said the bureau sent a letter to a committee headed by the chief executive recommending that Wong Fuk-wing be awarded the Gold Medal for Bravery. The medal is awarded for acts of gallantry of the greatest possible heroism or of the most conspicuous courage in circumstances of extreme danger.

'Wong manifested the greatest kindness and spirit of serving the community of Hong Kong people,' the minister said.

Wong's brother and brother-in-law were due to arrive in Yushu Tibetan autonomous prefecture last night, where Wong worked as a volunteer in an orphanage.

Wong, 46, escaped the quake but returned to the orphanage to save orphans and teachers trapped inside. He pulled out three children and a teacher before being critically injured by falling debris in a powerful aftershock while trying to save two other teachers.

A friend of Wong's, Xie Yinshen, arrived in Yushu yesterday. Wong helped Xie's twin brother before he died of leukaemia, Xie said. 'Wong was a selfless person serving the community,' Xie said.

Workers and volunteers at the orphanage made a temporary wooden coffin to hold Wong's remains. The deputy head of orphanage cried when speaking of his lost friend. 'Wong was a low-profile volunteer doing real work,' he said.

In an open letter released yesterday, Wong's sister said his motto for volunteer work was: 'Live in a meaningful way.'

She said Hongkongers should continue his selfless commitment to volunteer work, especially to help poor children on the mainland.

Since the handover, nineteen Hongkongers have been awarded the Gold Medal for Bravery, including doctor Joanna Tse Yuen-man who died during the severe acute respiratory syndrome epidemic in 2003.

Civil servants who win the award are eligible for burial in Gallant Garden in Fanling.

Hongkongers who die or are killed while performing exceptional acts of bravery and honoured civilians are eligible for burial in Tribute Garden, a cemetery opposite Gallant Garden.

However, Wong's sister, a social worker for the Social Welfare Department, said the family would like Wong to be buried in a public cemetery in Chai Wan instead because his father is buried there.