A reminder that money can't solve everything

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 November, 2010, 12:00am

We do not need much prompting to dwell on money and material possessions. There's been plenty of that since the global financial crisis. The latest is the prospect that US fiscal policy will unleash more hot money onto our booming property and stock markets. Meanwhile, discontent about the gap between rich and poor is growing.

To show it is listening and, no doubt, to head off criticism of the business sector, the government set up a HK$10 billion fund to help poor people who slip through the social welfare safety net. It is to be financed jointly with business. The sentiment is admirable, but the sacrifice small to tycoons and overflowing government coffers.

This is a good time, then, for an inspirational example of the true Hong Kong spirit - the resilient quality that has enabled it to emerge stronger from harder times than now, characterised by personal fortitude and sacrifice, hard work and optimism.

We have one in the city's latest hero, customs inspector Simon Hui Sai-man, who will be remembered not for busting a drug or arms-smuggling racket, but for a selfless sacrifice to save the life of a fellow officer badly injured during an anti-smuggling operation.

Hui responded to public appeals by donating part of his liver to Yuen Wai-cheung, whose only hope of survival was a transplant. If all continues to go well, Hui will fully recover within a month, and Yuen within a few months more.

It would be a disservice to the transplant team not to mention that gratitude for Hui's sacrifice comes with a caution and another public appeal. They discourage it except as a last resort because of the physical and psychological risks to the donor. Examples of the latter are a woman with relationship and work problems who became suicidal over a life-long surgical scar, and another who blamed herself because her liver donation failed to save her husband's life.

Doctors want more people to donate healthy organs after they die and help them save more lives. Because of cultural sensitivities, demand for donor organs still far outstrips supply. Perhaps the true Hong Kong spirit will overcome them one day, too. Hui has reminded us that it is something money cannot buy.