Hong Kong

Honors planned for fallen Qinghai quake hero

By Joy Lu (HK Edition)
Updated: 2010-04-17 07:46
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A Medal for Bravery has been recommended for Wong Fuk-wing, the man who died Wednesday while trying to save victims buried in the Qinghai earthquake.

Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing Friday said that the recommendation has been made to the Honours Committee to posthumously award the Medal for Bravery (Gold) to Wong. Past recipients include Tse Yuen-man, the woman doctor who volunteered for the SARS ward at the height of the 2003 outbreak, and Siu Wing-fong and Chan Siu-lung, the two firemen who gave their breathing apparatuses to stranded residents in a Mong Kok fire.

The Home Affairs Department has contacted Wong's family to have his remains buried in the Tribute Garden in Wo Hop Shek Public Cemetery. The garden is used for the burials of citizens who died while performing exceptional acts of bravery.

But Wong's sister declined, saying they want Wong buried alongside his father in the Chinese Permanent Cemeteries in Aberdeen.

His family members arrived in disaster-stricken Yushu Friday night, after a more-than-10-hour journey from Xining, provincial capital of Qinghai. They were accompanied by personnel from the Central Government's Liaison Office in Hong Kong and the Hong Kong government's office in Beijing, to arrange Wong's funeral.

The family has now accepted Wong's death, after the initial disbelief, Tsang said.

Wong had called his family to say he was safe, not long before a orphanage notified the family that he had been buried under the debris, he disclosed.

The volunteer worker at Ci Xing Xi Yuan Hui orphanage escaped the building unhurt after the initial tremor struck, but went back inside to rescue three children and three teachers trapped inside. Wong and others had extricated three children and one teacher when an aftershock shattered the remains of the unstable structure and buried Wong under the debris.

Online posts paying tribute to the Hong Kong hero mushroomed on both mainland and Hong Kong websites Friday.

Sun Xiaolan, a friend of Wong, told reporters a story about his attempt to help a pair of poor brothers from Hubei, Xie Yingzhi and Xie Yingshen. Yingzhi suffered from leukemia. Yingshen was a perfect match for a bone marrow transplant but they couldn't afford the more-than-100,000-yuan operation.

With only the information he read from a newspaper, Wong traveled to Beijing in 2002 and searched the streets for three days. "I felt he was being ridiculous in doing this," she wrote in her blog.

Wong did find the Xie brothers and proved a source of comfort and hope in Yingzhi's last days.

"Though the days when they tried to raise money in Shenzhen were difficult and desparate, they feel beautiful to me. It's because you are concerned about me and care for me," Yingzhi wrote in a letter to Wong.

Yingshen had departed for Yushu, in the hope of meeting Wong's family.

"I'm heart-broken," said Yingshen in a telephone call to Cable TV.

In Yushu, a dozen surviving volunteers at the orphanage held a memorial ceremony for Wong.

"It's a loss to all grassroots volunteers," said fellow volunteer Zhao Lin, adding that they will follow Wong's example in doing solid work wholeheartedly.

China Daily

(HK Edition 04/17/2010 page1)