I am indebted to Mr Webb for noticing that two of the eight members of the Honours Committee were among this year’s seven recipients of Grand Bauhinia Medals: Ronald Arculli and Leong Che-hung. What’s most shocking is that Ron, the government’s most reliable and ubiquitous mouthpiece, didn’t already have one.
As well as granting awards to one another, the committee members doled a few out to other luminaries, including casino giant Stanley Ho (an ardent promoter of young people’s welfare, apparently) and Financial Secretary John Tsang. I had never heard of another recipient, one Tin Ka-ping – which is odd because he has 96 secondary/vocational schools, 48 primary schools/kindergartens and 850 libraries named after him. Most of them are in the mainland, luckily, otherwise it would amazingly confusing and there wouldn’t be any space left here for 7-Elevens.
Stanley Ho is ailing and quite possibly in a coma, and fellow awardee Prof Sir Charles Kao of fibre-optics fame suffers from Alzheimer’s and is often unaware of what is going on around him (as, indeed, are many GBM winners). But let’s hope the others enjoy the main perk of Hong Kong’s highest award: use of the VIP facilities at the airport, with grovelling ex-Cathay staff in uniforms serving tea and calling the immigration officer to say you’re ready to see him.
The South China Morning Post quotes academic Ivan Choy as saying the larger number of GBMs handed out this year might suggest that the value of the honours was being deflated. In recent years, the Honours Committee has been eking out the top medals as the number of GBM-less billionaires, toadies and obscure communist terrorist/heroes has dwindled. The reason they’ve blown quite a lot this year is probably because several recipients may not be around in 2011, and some of the political doormats on the list must have been lobbying for several years now.
Choi adds that this year’s choice of recipients “will only enhance the public impression that these are only political rewards for a small circle.” Which is where the true devaluation of these supposed honours comes from. Other than for officials, who get them pretty automatically, decisions on who does or doesn’t get a top medal have to take into account social standing (for which read wealth), political correctness, breeding, and, not least, the amour-propre of those who already have them. Who would want to be one of the class of people who lust for the things? Not Alice Mak, creator of the animated piglet McDull, who got a humble Medal of Honour…
…nor, I like to think, Bronze Bauhinia Star awardee and Inland Revenue official Brenda Lee. So that’s what she’s doing now…
About bloody time someone branded “Not for public use” on Robbie’s face.
Argh I meant Ronnie. Sorry lack of caffeine.