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A Hong Kong newsmaker is chosen each month by HKFP. Rising social activist Benson Tsang, who founded Fair Sharing Action, has been chosen for January 2016. 

In 2011, the Hong Kong government was sporting a record surplus and decided to return some of it to its people. Every Hong Kong permanent resident was handed a big “lai see” of HK$6,000.

Instead of spending it on himself, interior designer Benson Tsang wanted to share it with those who needed the money more than him. He gathered friends who had the same idea and used their cash handouts to buy daily necessities for the poor. He also called on others to do the same on Facebook. This is how Fair Sharing Action started.

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Last week, the group made news again. As near freezing temperatures hit the city, Tsang and others took daily supplies to a cold shelter in Sham Shui Po for the homeless. However, they were blocked by staff members at the shelter and the police were called.

The Home Affairs Department, which manages cold shelters, told Ming Pao that visitors are not welcome as the government needs to ensure the privacy and safety of the people staying at the shelters. Many netizens were supportive of Tsang. They blasted the shelter for letting Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying visit but not other people.

Tsang is gaining more and more followers on social media and many are still signing up to join Fair Sharing Action. This month, he initiated a “shoes sharing” campaign on Facebook. The post was shared over 1,000 times and shoes poured in.

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Tsang received a lot of shoes for his “shoes sharing” campaign. Photo: Benson Tsang.

“No need for brand new shoes, as long as they are clean and not broken,” Tsang wrote, “I also have to stress, the point of the action is to share, not donate”.

Tsang does not like to think of himself as someone who “gives” or “helps.” He refuses to brand his social work as “good people doing good deeds.” He is just doing what he should do as a Hongkonger, Tsang told Hong Kong Economic Times.

Vivienne Zeng is a journalist from China with three years' experience covering Hong Kong and mainland affairs. She has an MA in journalism from the University of Hong Kong. Her work has been featured on outlets such as Al Jazeera+ and MSNBC.