A Rich, Sexy “Bauhinia Heroine” is Giving Money and Food to Hong Kong’s Poor
Update: The real-life story of the Bauhinia Heroine is being made into a movie.
A recent YouTube video caught a masked female crusader distributing food and money to poor residents in the city. But in her flamboyant blue mask, cleavage-baring outfit, she seems more of a movie character than she does a real-world person. It’s not coincidental: in an interview with the South China Morning Post, the self-styled “Bauhinia Heroine” (named after the city’s official flower) acknowledged that her inspiration for the persona came from a character of the same name played by Connie Chan Po-chu in the 1965 film, Black Rose.
But there’s also someone behind the mask, a secret identity which has been subject to much speculation. Some have mistakenly proposed that the Bauhinia Heroine is in fact Wan Baobao, the mainland jewelry designer, based on their similar physical attributes and backgrounds. According to the masked woman, she is around the age of 30, was educated in the United States and England, hails from a notable family, is a single businesswoman with a six-digit monthly salary, and lives in the Mid-Levels area.
Her motive, she claims, is to call attention to the injustice of Hong Kong’s economic policies, particularly the recent case of the government’s cash handout, in which both rich and poor alike received $6,000 Hong Kong dollars (about $770 U.S. dollars). The appearance of the Bauhinia Heroine comes at a time when the city is facing a devastatingly wide income gap — already the worst in the world, according to SCMP last month:
Hong Kong’s Gini coefficient – which measures income inequality on a scale of 0 to 1, where 0 is perfect equality and 1 is perfect inequality – rose from 0.518 in 1996 to 0.525 in 2001, and stood at 0.533 in 2006, the most recent year for which data is available. The figure showed that wealth disparity in the city was the most serious in the world.
The poorest 10 per cent of families became even poorer, living on HK$3,000 a month, HK$100 less than in 2006. Families in the middle income bracket brought home HK$500 more a month last year, from HK$15,000 in 2006 to HK$15,500.
The top household incomes averaged 25.7 times the lowest last year – the highest in 20 years.
So the justification is there. But why the secrecy for this woman’s charity? ”I hide my identity because I don’t want others to say my purpose is to make myself and my family famous,” she told The Standard. Okay, fair, but why the dramatic flair? The Bauhina Heroine hopes her act – eyebrow-raising attire included — will attract journalists and followers alike and convince them to also help the poor.
All the money which she has given away is reportedly her own. So far, she’s donated $8,000 HKD (about $1,030 USD) in food and money to residents living in the districts of Sham Shui Po and Jordan, some of whom live in literal cage homes. Thousands still eat and sleep in 15-square-foot cubicles in old tenement flats, but even these meager living conditions are being threatened as real estate developers buy the properties, forcing their residents to vacate the building.
Now, the Bauhinia Heroine has even set up an account on Facebook, under the name “Hongkong Flower,” with 2,701 friends as of this blog posting. In her “About” section, she writes:
電影《Kick Ass》在美國掀起熱潮，更引發一場「真實超級英雄熱」，普通人化身英雄，救助貧苦、打擊罪案，So Fun！我的美國朋友也成了超級英雄，他也號召我加入，因此紫荊俠誕生了。我將會四出救助貧苦，既然政府亂派錢，不如等我修正，我將擇日出動，先派我的六千元……
The movie Kick-Ass set off the “real-life superhero craze.” Ordinary people changed into heroes, rescuing the poor and combating crime — so fun! My American friend also became a superhero. He called on me to participate, and thus the Bauhinia Heroine was born. I will go out and help the poor, since the government’s cash handout is a mess. It would be better for me to amend the situation. I will choose an auspicious day to start taking action, when I’ll first hand out my own $6,000 dollars…
Several we’ve spoken to have submitted the theory that this is all some kind of marketing ploy. We would be unsurprised. But we would be unsurprised if it turned out to be real, also. Bizarre circumstances call for bizarre solutions. Either way, let’s hope that the awareness brought on by this whole gimmick is not overshadowed by a mask and cleavage — which, we admit, it can easily be.
But we needn’t only speculate. If you feel impelled, take action by donating to Oxfam Hong Kong or local community organizations such as St. James’ Settlement, which focuses on providing support to low-income families and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance households in Hong Kong.
Watch the video capturing the Heroine in action below!
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TAGS: Bauhina Heroine • Charity • charity donation • Hong Kong cash handout • Hong Kong economy • superhero
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