Ask anyone what embodies the Hong Kong spirit and you will get an array of answers - optimism, perseverance, enterprise, versatility, generosity, benevolence and tolerance. While there is no shortage of attributes to collectively define the city's character, it is the people who bring this place to life. They are the heart and soul that make Hong Kong special.
The people who manifest these positive qualities do not always get the appreciation they deserve. For this the media is partly responsible. The tendency for media organisations to focus on the negative means news coverage is often dominated by conflicts, scandals, accidents and disasters. As the old saying goes, no news is good news. A complete picture is sadly lacking.
For the second year, the South China Morning Post has launched the Spirit of Hong Kong Awards. Initiated to mark the paper's 110th anniversary last year, the project aims at giving due recognition to lesser-known people who have made the city a better place. Mostly little-known to the community, the individuals have made a difference through selfless contributions to society, or have overcome personal challenges in life and brought new insights to the meaning of life.
In the coming weeks, we will uncover stories describing the exemplary acts of amazing individuals. For instance, the social worker couple who founded Doctor BB, a programme that allows children to visit people living in homes for the elderly. It enables children to meet strangers and develop their social skills, while their presence helps cheer up senior citizens living in gloomy environments.
A total of 24 people have been shortlisted for this year's awards. To add value to the project, recognition will be awarded in seven categories - personal contribution to community, overcoming personal challenges, self-sacrifice to achieve greater good, corporate citizenship, heritage preservation, innovation for good, and Lion Rock entrepreneur.
While the city is fraught with political bickering and social discontent, it is easy to forget the spirits and the people that make Hong Kong such a special place. The nominees are all ordinary people who do extraordinary things day after day without seeking recognition or reward. Their stories epitomise the good nature of Hongkongers - kindness, dedication, tenacity and selflessness. They are the unsung heroes who make this city a better place.