Thursday, 30 June 2016

Government Pats its own Back

Chief Secretary Carrie Lam to receive Hong Kong's highest honour
On the eve of the 19th anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China, the government unveiled its list of awards, lauding those who have made significant contributions to the city.

It was quite surprising to see the list stacked with government officials, led by Chief Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor being awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal, the highest accolade possible.

Some of her colleagues receive the Gold Bauhinia Star, like Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok, Wong Kam-sing, Secretary for the Environment, and Paul Chan Mo-po, Secretary for Development.

What has Paul Chan done to merit a Gold Bauhinia Star?
One can see why Lam was given the award for her tireless efforts in trying to be the face of the Leung Chun-ying administration, particularly during the Occupy protests and last year when the government was pushing through electoral reform and failed. She had to put a brave face forward, which is professional of her, but at what cost morally?

What have Wong and Chan done lately that merit recognition for their work?

Pollution, waste and recycling issues have hardly been tackled, with the government timidly implementing waste disposal costs. Perhaps Wong will say these efforts need the cooperation of other departments, but his should be leading and pushing the cause with a goal of making Hong Kong a more efficient and cleaner city when it comes to dealing with waste and pollution.

Meanwhile Chan's record is hardly stellar, embroiled in several scandals mostly involving real estate. He and his wife were found to have property that had subdivided flats, and later it was reported his family had land in the New Territories where the government had planned to develop, thus possibly resulting in a windfall. He was accused of conflict of interest and did not fully disclose all his assets.

We vote for Chan Cheuk-ming to get formal recognition
What has he done to be awarded a Gold Bauhinia medal?

On the other hand, it goes without saying that the two firemen who lost their lives in the Ngau Tau Kok fire over a week ago, Thomas Cheung and Samuel Hui Chi-kit should be recognized posthumously with gold medals for bravery.

While this honour is a token that will not bring Hui and Cheung back to their families, it is a small gesture Hong Kong can do to show the community's gratitude towards them.

Other people recognized on the list seem to be pro-establishment figures, like Starry Lee Wai-king, chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, her colleague Tam Yiu-chung, and Liu Changle, chairman and CEO of Phoenix Television.

And for Father Franco Mella in helping the disadvantaged
How about highlighting people who are fostering community in the city, helping others in selfless ways, like restaurant owner Chan Cheuk-ming or Ming gor, who feeds the poor in Sham Shui Po, or Father Franco Mella, an Italian priest who came to Hong Kong in 1974 and learned Cantonese and has worked hard to help the disadvantaged.

To me, these people should be receiving the city's highest honours. But perhaps the government is perched too high on the pedestal to see the city's true gems.

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