Spirit of Hong Kong winners shine at SCMP awards dinner
Eight winners have been chosen for the Spirit of Hong Kong Awards this year, organised by the South China Morning Post and were given their awards on Tuesday evening at a dinner ceremony at the Conrad Hong Kong Hotel, with guest of honour Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah.
“Each and every one of the award recipients is central to the continuing success of Hong Kong as a player, a force, in the fiercely competitive global market place,” said Tsang in a speech before the ceremony.
“They remind us that Hong Kong’s human currency is no less vital than our financial capital,” he said, adding “the resilient spirit of Hong Kong is not only admirable, it is also our lasting advantage.”
Dr David Pang, chairman of the SCMP Group, said, “As Hong Kong’s newspaper to the world, we have a moral and social responsibility to inform our readers not only about the trials and tribulations the city faces, but just as importantly, to direct our readers’ attention to the magnanimous spirit of Hong Kong when it is applied to support and help those less fortunate.”
Judges who voted for the majority of section winners and readers who voted for the People’s Choice Award had a tough time picking from all the deserving 24 nominees, who had previously been shortlisted.
There were scientists, courageous individuals who had overcome adversity and gone on to be role models for others, doctors who risk their lives to go into disaster and war zones to help those desperately needing help. There were the community carers – modest individuals who have dedicated hours every week to contribute for the benefit of others – and also those who have undertaken to preserve the beautiful heritage of our city and share it with others.
“Yes, it’s been really tough for our judges and the readers, I don’t envy them,” said South China Morning Post editor-in-chief Wang Xiangwei. “The calibre of this year’s nominees was truly impressive and I think this year’s format of dividing into set-skill areas also was beneficial to highlight these hardworking and visionary individuals in different parts of Hong Kong’s community.”
Our winners for this year are: Dr Poon Tak-lun, who was nominated by the Hong Kong Red Cross for his huge amount of volunteer work in the wake of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake; student Leung Siu-lun, left in a wheelchair following a devastating illness, but who went on to become a champion fencer; dedicated blood donor Li Kam-keung; Nelson Yip Siu-hong, whose cerebral palsy in childhood left him on crutches but has never held him back, riding in the Paralympics in 2008, and setting up a charity to encourage disabled people to reach their potential. Other winners included heritage fan David Bellis who has set up an extensive Hong Kong history website; Michael Tsui Kam-fai of Rehab-Robotics, who has created an innovative robotic hand to help stroke survivors rehabilitate; Law Wing-kee, a true corporate citizen who employees former offenders and also has paid for their education to further themselves, and Sheila Purves, who has spent most of the past 30 years helping train orthopaedic students and hospital workers in China in rehabilitation work. Purves is the winner of the People’s Choice Award.
Bellis said it had been a lovely surprise to be nominated let alone winning for his work in preserving and sharing Hong Kong’s heritage with his history website gwulo.com.
“The award recognises the work I’ve put in to the Gwulo.com website, but I have to say there are many contributors who’ve helped build it up. The award goes to them as well.
Looking ahead I hope this added exposure helps encourage more people to join in. The more we share our knowledge of old Hong Kong through stories, memories, photos, and questions, the more we can learn from each other.”
The South China Morning Post would also like to thank their technology project for the awards, Mango Wish, a member company of Cherrypicks, who provided hours of volunteer work setting up and providing technology support for free for the voting system.
One of the judges, Professor Nelson Chow Wing-sun, Chair Professor at the Department of Social Work and Social Administration at the University of Hong Kong, said that all the winners were very deserving but he particularly wanted to highlight the work of the doctors featured in this year’s awards for their work in emergency situations.
Professor Frederick Ma Si-hang who chaired the judges’ panel said: “Our awardees tonight truly exhibit the Hong Kong spirit. From Lion Rock Entrepreneurs to Heritage Preservation and Innovation heroes to good Corporate Citizens. From people who have overcome personal difficulties to achieve their dreams to unsung heroes who give back to the community and sacrifice themselves to help or save others. You have our utmost respect and support, and I thank you on behalf of the judging panel for your invaluable contribution to our society.”
“Our human capital is of very high quality and we possess the Hong Kong spirit of perseverance, resilience and diligence,” the chairman added.
Fencing champion Leung Siu-lun said he wasn’t the only nominee who had had to go through the ordeal of a debilitating illness. “I hope my experience can inspire others to overcome hardship in life and never give up!” he said.
Li Kam-keung, who has regularly donated blood to the Hong Kong Red Cross for the past 18 years said his award not only belonged to him but to all blood donors who helped others. He hoped more people would be encouraged to donate blood, and that more pensioners like him could be encouraged to do voluntary work.
One of the eight judges, Daryl Ng Win-kong, Executive Director of Sino Group, said: “Professionally and personally, the stories of the unsung heroes are truly inspiring. Whether by pursuing a meaningful cause or researching for technological advancement or deploying resources in an out-of-the-box way, these wonderful people have, in their own and unique way, made a positive impact on the lives of others.”
Judge James Blake, former secretary for works, said it had been very difficult to pick the winners but he did admit to one favourite. “My personal hero is Nelson Yip, for overcoming personal disability and providing an example to others of what determination and willpower can achieve. And yet do so without relying on sentiment but build his own success.”