Media and tobacco tycoon Charles Ho Tsu-kwok, who backed failed chief executive candidate Henry Tang Ying-yen and made a scathing attack on eventual winner Leung Chun-ying, is one of only two people to win the city's top award in the latest honours list.
The other recipient of the Grand Bauhinia Medal is Jose Yu Sunsay, permanent honorary president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association.
The government said Ho received the award "in recognition of his distinguished service to the community, particularly his contribution to the media industry".
In the run-up to the 2012 election, the Sing Tao News Corporation chairman questioned Leung's ability to govern Hong Kong, saying: "I would not vote for Leung. I have no way to understand his personality and his political platforms."
A total of 283 people are honoured for their contributions to the city this year, down from 337 last year.
A spokesman for the government's protocol division said last year's number had been inflated by about 60 awards to people who helped the rescue effort after the 2012 Lamma ferry tragedy. "That means the number of awardees this year is actually pretty much the same as last year's," a spokesman said.
Others honoured include Dr Law Chi-kwong, chairman of the Community Care Fund, who is awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star.
Pro-government lawmakers including Wong kwok-kin of the Federation of Trade Unions and Christopher Cheung Wah-fung of the Business and Professionals Alliance for Hong Kong are awarded the Silver Bauhinia Star.
Carlson Tong Ka-shing, chairman of both the English Schools Foundation and the Securities and Futures Commission, also receives the silver star.
"I have not thought about getting an honour and so I was taken by surprise. I see it not as an honour for myself, but an honour for the works of the bodies I work at," Tong said yesterday.
Mariam Maria Cordero, a popular television cooking show host, is awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star.
Also honoured with the bronze star is former executive councillor Franklin Lam Fan-keung, who was cleared by graftbusters after a nine-month investigation following reports that he might have used inside information to sell two flats before new housing stamp duties came in.