Spirit of Hong Kong

Spirit of Hong Kong

Spirit of Hong Kong is a series that looks behind the scenes of one of Asia's largest and most vibrant cities by focusing on those whose contributions often go unnoticed yet are vital to the everyday success of Hong Kong. 

Hong Kong-based entrepreneur discovers new way to test for toxins

Vitargent founder Eric Chen shows off his zebrafish, which are used to test for toxins. Photo: David Wong

The melamine scandal on the mainland in 2008 saw six babies die and 300,000 fall ill after drinking milk powder tainted with an industrial chemical.

Monday, 29 June, 2015, 12:29am

Mini-hearts created from stem cells could help put new drugs to the test

Professor Ronald Li and his team can create mini-hearts from just 2.5ml of blood.Photo: Frank Tsang

I'm looking at a human mini-heart. Well, a model of a mini-heart. A person can give 2.5ml of blood to Professor Ronald Li Tang-wai and his team; within six months, they can create the stem cells, which in turn can build a blood-ejecting mini "cloned" human heart. The potential is huge. And it's a world first.

28 Jun 2015 - 2:58am

Student who beat serious blood disorder as a child is proving an inspiration to others

Milly Pun, who had chemotherapy treatment and a bone marrow transplant, is now studying to be an engineer. Photo: Franke Tsang

As a sporty 10-year-old, Milly Pun Hok-hei felt she was too young to have anything seriously wrong with her. So when her parents took her to various doctors in 2006 over continual bouts of flu, she never thought it could be life-threatening.

25 Jun 2015 - 3:46am

Spirit of Hong Kong: a master craftsman passes on his carpentry skills

Lung Man-chuen is in his element working with old tools in his workshop in To Kwa Wan. Photo: Nora Tam

Lung Man-chuen grins as he crosses the road to greet us, bends down to unlock the corrugated metal door and pulls it up. He presses down on two wall switches, and the lightbulbs hanging down on cords come on and the two ceiling fans begin to turn and whirr.

22 Jun 2015 - 11:35am

Blind 'naamyam' singer Tong Siu-yin working to preserve a unique Cantonese artform

Tong Siu-yin, who went blind after contracting measles, rehearses in To Kwa Wan. Photo: Nora Tam

Singer Tong Siu-yin comes down off the small stage at a workshop in To Kwa Wan after performing several naamyam songs - the "music of the south" that fans are keen to preserve as part of the city's heritage.

For centuries, the artform was a way for blind people to eke out a living at a time when they were allowed to do little else.

22 Jun 2015 - 11:35am

Social enterprise advocate obtains flats and rents them out to Hong Kong's less fortunate

Light Be founder Ricky Yu stands in the Sheung Wan flat which is rented by single mother Wendy, who is standing by the window. Photo: Bruce Yan

The small flat off Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan is light and airy. A little bike and other toys for a tot are neatly stored against the living room wall. At the back, there are two bedrooms with bunk beds and on the other side a corridor leads down to a kitchen and a bathroom. This is a renovated home in an old tenement building.

18 Jun 2015 - 4:28am 2 comments

A dedicated Hong Kong worker who brings joy to her grannies

Happy Grannies founder Sindy Chow Chi-fun poses for a picture with Cheng Tim, 84, in her home in Cheung Sha Wan. Photo: May Tse

The lock is pulled back on the door, the grill slides open and the face of the slim, erect elderly lady on the other side breaks into a grin as she recognises Sindy Chow Chi-fun of the organisation Happy Grannies.

To mark the Dragon Boat Festival, Chow has organised 13 teams of volunteers, each of which will visit two elderly women at a public housing estate in Cheung Sha Wan.

18 Jun 2015 - 11:42am

Dialogue in Dark opens visitors' eyes to visually impaired

Patrick Cheung Sui-lam set up the Dialogue Experience to raise awareness of disabled. Photo: Franke Tsang

Stepping into Dialogue in the Dark takes away a visitor's sense of sight, leaving children and adults to rely on touch and hearing to discover where to go.

Founded by Patrick Cheung Sui-lam, it is a kind of theme park, managed by visually impaired people. The Mei Foo attraction even includes a boat ride.

18 Jun 2015 - 11:42am

Hakka academic spreading the word on saving languages

Liu Zhenfa said the advent of television was one of the main culprits in the diminished use of indigenous languages in Hong Kong. Photo: David Wong

When Liu Zhenfa returned after eight years in Germany to live in the New Territories village where he grew up, he was shocked to find none of the children spoke Hakka any more. The language of the Hakka people simply wasn't being passed down to the next generation.

"I taught my children to speak Hakka," he says. "When they were small, I always spoke Hakka with them."

16 Jun 2015 - 7:02pm 3 comments

Long-time Hong Kong teacher helps deprived pupils overcome life's challenges

Teacher Ko Cheung-chuen outside Ho Ngai College in Tuen Mun. He has been nominated for a Spirit of Hong Kong Award for his work with troubled and underprivileged children. Photo: Franke Tsang

There was a time when triad gangsters used to congregate outside a school in Tuen Mun or loiter in the nearby shopping complex at lunchtime, looking for easy pickings from the schoolchildren, many of whom came from single-parent families or had behavioural problems.

12 Jun 2015 - 8:47am

Spirit of Hong Kong: how her village roots proved a source of comfort for chef George Tang

George Tang is busy renovating a village house and is looking forward to offering gourmet cooking classes. Photo: Jonathan Wong

Oh, to be a village girl in a Tang clan village. Well, when she was a teenager George Tang would have rather pulled her teeth out. Not for her rustic living amid the farms and old buildings of the Ping Shan Heritage Trail.

11 Jun 2015 - 3:20am

Generous Hong Kong blood and bone marrow donor passes on his habits to his children

Long-serving police officer and potential Spirit of Hong Kong awardee Chan Kwong-hing has donated blood to the Red Cross on numerous occasions. Photo: David Wong

When police officer Chan Kwong-hing's daughter turned 16, he took her to a blood donation centre - so she could make her first donation.

"Oh, she did get plenty of other birthday presents as well," he explains, but he was keen to pass on the community spirit to the next generation.

Mr Chan has been donating blood for 29 years - doing it a staggering 256 times.

10 Jun 2015 - 3:05am

Kiss and Tell inventor's device is a painless way to catch diabetes early enough to act

Winnie Lun, of eNano Health, says diabetes can be handled without medical intervention if it is detected early enough.Photo: David Wong

The "Kiss and Tell" test is as simple as it is clever. Just put a little of your saliva into a small blue receptacle and the line of paper next to it will indicate in minutes whether your glucose level is above normal.

It involves no pain from pricking fingers for blood, poses no risk of infection and is a key indicator as to whether you're at risk of diabetes.

8 Jun 2015 - 3:35pm 1 comment

Mother's group seeks full access to education for non-Cantonese-speaking special needs children

Trisha Tran has been nominated for the Award of the Spirit.Photo: May Tse

Mum's group fights for special needs children

8 Jun 2015 - 3:34pm

Business not just about making money, says Hong Kong social venture group

Francis Ngai Wah-sing said businesses should reconsider their social responsibility. Photo: Nora Tam

Francis Ngai Wah-sing envisages an entire change in the mindset of corporations, where profit will no longer be the deciding factor for business success as a whole

8 Jun 2015 - 3:36pm 3 comments

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