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Carrie Lam

Number of people on Hong Kong government honours list hits 10-year low

No members of Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s cabinet on list of award recipients, with just four prominent figures receiving the Grand Bauhinia Medal

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2018, 7:01am
UPDATED : Sunday, 01 July, 2018, 7:01am

The number of people on the government’s official honours list this year for their contributions to Hong Kong has dropped to a 10-year low, with fewer political figures and more professionals.

Among the list of 282 recipients – gazetted on Sunday and the first to be approved by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor – only four prominent figures are marked for the top award, the Grand Bauhinia Medal, compared with 12 last year when her predecessor Leung Chun-ying led the city.

Leung awarded 337 medals in 2013 after completing his first year in office.

This year’s Grand Bauhinia Medal awardees are Justice Robert Tang Kwok-ching, a permanent judge of the city’s highest court; Cheung Hok-ming, a leading rural leader and former Executive Council member; entrepreneur Robin Chan Yau-hing, the father of Exco convenor Bernard Chan; and renowned researcher Professor Rosie Young Tse-tse.

No one from Lam’s cabinet is on the list, and only two are lawmakers: Ann Chiang Lai-wan and Ben Chan Han-pan of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, the city’s largest pro-establishment political party, who get silver and bronze bauhinia stars respectively. No pan-democrats are on the list.

The total number of awardees this year is 15 per cent lower than last year’s 331, which included seven pro-establishment lawmakers. The 12 receiving the highest honours last year included seven of Leung’s ministers and executive councillors.

This year, former director of water supplies Enoch Lam Tin-sing, who was heavily criticised for his handling of the tainted water scare of 2015, wins the Silver Bauhinia Star.

A number of professionals from different sectors have also won accolades.

Microbiologist Professor Yuen Kwok-yung and two judges – David Edmond Neuberger and Michael Lunn – are among 10 marked for the Gold Bauhinia Star.

Actress Kara Wai Ying-hung and Cantonese opera actor Law Kar-ying both get bronze stars, along with wheelchair fencer Yu Chui-yee.

“I am very surprised and glad. This is a great honour for me,” said Wai, who last year bagged best leading actress honours at both the Golden Horse Awards and Hong Kong Film Awards.

She said she would be sure to attend the government’s presentation ceremony in October.

Athletes including Olympic swimmer Siobhan Haughey and soccer player Chan Wai-ho are also on the list, with commendations for community service.

Four firefighters involved in the rescue operation of two hikers trapped in Fei Ngo Shan in the middle of a raging storm last August have been honoured with silver medals for bravery.

Policeman Zachary Rolfe, who rescued a Hongkonger in Australia, is the first foreign national cited for a bravery medal for work outside the city.

Modelled on the British system, the awards are designed to recognise those who have made significant contributions to the community. But it has been criticised as a system that distributes prizes to government allies.

Yu, the fencer, expressed happiness over the recognition.

“I’m glad the status of athletes has been elevated in recent years,” she said, noting that Olympic cyclist Sarah Lee Wai-sze had previously been honoured.