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Friday, July 1, 2016, 01:06

Fire-fighters awarded posthumous bravery medals

By Joseph Li

HONG KONG - The two firemen, Thomas Cheung Yiu-sing and Samuel Hui Chi-kit, who sacrificed their lives at the mini-storages inferno in Ngau Tau Kok, were posthumously awarded with Medal for Bravery (Gold) among 310 people honored.

Among the 2016 Honours List, seven were awarded the Grand Bauhinia Medal (GBM) which is the highest honor. They include Chief Secretary for Administration Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, lawmaker and former chairman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) Tam Yiu-chung, and Chan Wing-kee, a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Eighteen people, including three serving policy secretaries, were awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star (GBS) which is the second-highest honor. They include Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok, Secretary for the Environment Wong Kam-sing and Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po. Others include retiring legislators Chan Kam-lam from the DAB and Vincent Fang Kang from the Liberal Party, and Justice Anthony To Kwai-fung from the Court of First Instance of the High Court.

In addition, 23 people were awarded Silver Bauhinia Star (SBS). And of the 60 awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star (BBS), the most famous is Andy Lau Tak-wah, the actor and Cantopop singer.

This year sees the second-highest number of seven GBM recipients, the same as in 2010, after 12 in 1997. For 2015, there were four GBM, 14 GBS and 13 SBS recipients.

Speaking of the two firemen who lost their lives, a spokesperson from the Protocol Division said they fulfilled the criteria for bravery medals. This is because they knew the scene was very dangerous and they risked their lives.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has said they should be awarded posthumous bravery medals. The spokesperson said as long as the relevant paperwork arrived on time, their names could be included in the 2016 Honours List. This was made known to the media on June 30 and to the public a day later.

Discussing Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, who is also chairwoman of the Honours and Non-Official Justices of the Peace Selection Committee, the spokesperson said she did not participate in discussions relating to her nomination.

Former DAB chairman Tam Yiu-chung said he was delighted to be awarded the GBM because the government knows he is retiring and will not stand for the Legislative Council election in September. “The award is a very big encouragement to me and  recognition of my work over the past decades.

“I would like to thank all those people and organizations who have supported me and given me advice,” he told China Daily.

On the subject of awards for the two deceased firemen, he said they truly deserved bravery medals.

According to the official citations, late senior station officer Thomas Cheung is honored for the bravery he displayed during the four-alarm fire that began on June 21 and lasted more than 100 hours. He entered the maze-like mini-storage facility inside the industrial building to try to fight the fire.

But Cheung later lost contact with his teammates and was found unconscious when located later and taken to hospital immediately. Unfortunately he died the same day.

The deceased senior foreman Samuel Hui also faced great danger when deployed in the firefighting and rescue operation on June 23.

Subject to intense heat and fire, he was found unconscious inside the mini-storage facility. Hui was rushed to hospital after he was rescued. Unfortunately he was later certified dead.

The presentation ceremony for their awards will be held in October.

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