Basic Law panel member Maria Tam receives Grand Bauhinia Medal

Maria Tam, who said nomination of candidates not universal right, among four to get Bauhinia

PUBLISHED : Monday, 01 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 01 July, 2013, 4:05am

Political heavyweight Maria Tam Wai-chu, who recently sparked controversy with her remarks on universal suffrage, is one of four people who have won Hong Kong's highest honour.

Other recipients of the Grand Bauhinia Medal include Buddhist leader Sik Kok Kwong, 94, the oldest person to receive the award this year, and two Court of Final Appeal judges - Mr Justice Anthony Mason and Mr Justice Patrick Chan Siu-oi.

A total of 377 people were recognised for their contribution to the city - the first time the awards were approved by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying.

No one on the list is a clear supporter of Leung, or has worked in his office, in contrast to earlier speculation about who would receive the awards.

"The awards recognise their significant contributions to Hong Kong or their dedicated public and community service," said a government spokeswoman.

Tam, a veteran Basic Law Committee member, in April said the UN's International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights indicated that the right to vote, not the right to nominate or be elected, was universal.

She also suggested that an interpretation of the Basic Law by Beijing could be the last option for determining how universal suffrage could be implemented for the 2017 chief executive poll.

Others who made the list include 61 people who contributed to the rescue effort after the ferry crash off Lamma Island on October 1 last year, which claimed 39 lives. The 61 were commended by the chief executive for their community and public service.

"Three of these people are volunteers who contributed bravely to the rescue mission, while the others are civil servants from different departments who were involved in some way," the spokeswoman said.

Cantonese opera star Chan Shuk-leung, 85, whose stage name is Pak Suet-sin, won a Gold Bauhinia Star, the second-highest honour, "for her distinguished achievements in performing the indigenous art".

And world champion cyclist Wong Kam-po won a Silver Bauhinia Star for his dedication to the development of the sport. Table tennis player Jiang Tianyi, 25, was the youngest person to make the list. He was commended for his community service.

Four current or former pro-government lawmakers were recognised. Abraham Razack won a Gold Bauhinia Star and Priscilla Leung Mei-fun a Silver Bauhinia Star, while Wong Kwok-hing and former lawmaker Pan Pey-chyou both won Bronze Bauhinia stars. No one from the pan-democratic camp made the list, which will be gazetted today. This year's medals are expected to be presented in October.