HONG KONG - Hong Kong people, including hundreds of volunteers, streamed into a downtown funeral home on Thursday to pay their last respect to the city's fallen hero, Wong Fuk-wing, a former volunteer who lost his life saving others in the earthquake in northwest China's Qinghai province.
A three-hour public memorial service began at 4 pm local time at a memorial hall of the Universal Funeral Parlor in Kowloon.
Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu, State Councilor Liu Yandong, Director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council Liao Hui and the Qinghai provincial government presented wreaths to pay respect to Wong.
With a simple ceremony, Wong's family urged Hong Kong people to pay their tribute and leave quickly for fear of causing disorder. The family also called on local people to donate their money for the "Wong Fuk-wing Memorial Fund" under Hong Kong Red Cross, instead of buying wreaths or funeral scrolls.
Wong, a 46-year-old truck driver who had survived the 7.1-magnitude quake in Yushu last month, died in a powerful aftershock after he returned to debris rescuing the trapped victims at an orphanage where he worked as a volunteer. He sacrificed himself to rescue four people, including three orphans and a teacher.
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region's Chief Executive Donald Tsang, principal officials of the HKSAR government and senior officials with the Liaison Office of the Central Government attended the memorial service to pay final tribute to Wong.
The four rescued have also come to Hong Kong to say goodbye to Wong.
Tsang commended Wong for his volunteer work, saying he is highly appreciative of his selfless and courageous act.
In an article entitled "A Role Model for Hong Kong People" posted in his blog, Tsang praised Wong for going back to the scene to save others while ignoring his own safety.
Wong had been a total stranger to most Hong Kong people, let alone people in the Chinese mainland. As a truck driver, he was by no means leading an affluent life, but he was enthusiastic in contributing to charity over the years.
In 2002, he spent seven months in a solitary walk from Hong Kong to Beijing to raise funds for the Chinese Marrow Donor Program, to which he had donated all his savings.
Following the 8.0-magnitude earthquake that hit southwestern China's Sichuan Province in May 2008, Wong worked for two months as a volunteer in the quake-stricken areas.
Since the beginning of last month, Wong had been serving as a volunteer in an orphanage in Yushu, Qinghai before the deadly earthquake, which had killed over 2,000 people and injured more than 12,000 others.