Several of outgoing Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s supporters have been awarded honours on his last day as Hong Kong leader.
Twelve have been awarded the highest honour of the Grand Bauhinia Medal – the highest number of awards since 1997. They include Executive Council members Laura Cha, Arthur Li, Fanny Law, and Ip Kwok-him.
Several from the business sector were also awarded the top honour. They include Vincent Lo, chairman of developer Shui On Group; Henry Cheng, chairman of New World Development, and Ronnie Chan, chairman of Hang Lung Properties. Chan had never received any honours before.
Airport Authority chairman Jack So and Stephen Tai, founder of Four Seas Group, also received the award.
The top awardees also include the three top secretaries, Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, Financial Secretary Paul Chan and Justice Secretary Rimsky Yuen. Of these, Chan was awarded the Gold Bauhinia Star – the second ranked honour – just last year, when he was the then-secretary for development.
“After assuming the post of the Financial Secretary, he has made valuable contributions in striving to achieve fiscal balance and dedicating public resources flexibly for launching various government projects and public services to meet the needs of the community,” the government said.
Former financial secretary and chief executive candidate John Tsang, meanwhile, was appointed a justice of peace. He had already received a Gold Bauhinia Medal in 2010.
Chinese University political scientist Ivan Choy told Apple Daily that it was rare to award more than ten top honour medals in a year, and more than half of this year’s batch were Leung’s core supporters.
“Many people don’t know what contributions they have made to Hong Kong,” he said. “As time runs out, [Leung] is using the final remaining power he has to reward his supporters.”
This year’s list also broke records since the Handover, with 25 Gold Bauhinia Star medals being awarded.
The awardees, many of whom also Leung’s supporters, include Executive Council member Cheung Chi-kong, Central Policy Unit head Shiu Sin-por, top consultant Sophia Kao, and Leung’s former election campaign deputy manager Kaizer Lau.
Lau Ming-wai, son of tycoon Joseph Lau and head of Commission on Youth, rose from a Bronze Bauhinia Star medal owner five years ago, to a Gold Bauhinia Star awardee this year.
Top officials who received the honour are Education Secretary Eddie Ng, Health Secretary Ko Wing-man, IT chief Nicholas Yang, among others.
In the current administration, only Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah did not receive a Gold Bauhinia Star or a higher honour.
Firefighter Yau Siu-ming, who died while trying to rescue two hikers in March, was awarded a posthumous gold medal for bravery.