The awful day when time stood Wednesday, May 13 2009
Group's executive director recalls the sadness of seeing Mianzhu's broken clock tower amid the scenes of destruction, writes Jade Lee-Duffy.
The time of 2.27pm will always be etched into Daryl Ng Win-kong's mind. For him, it represents the minute the earth shook Sichuan province and all its inhabitants on May 12, 2008, and when millions of lives were ripped apart with one of China's most deadly earthquakes.
A month after the 7.9-magnitude earthquake, Mr Ng wanted to see the reality of villages heavily damaged around Deyang, north of the epicentre. In Mianzhu, he vividly remembers the city's western-style clock tower.
"The clock tower was still standing, but it was cracked. The huge earthquake was so powerful that time froze at the minute it struck. Most of the buildings around it were destroyed, which showed the destructive force," he recalled.
"This earthquake is very close to our hearts. You could see how within minutes millions became homeless and thousands were killed. There were many stories of bravery and caring shown in these tough times, and the SCMP Homes for Hope project extends this care and compassion."
As the executive director of Sino Group, Mr Ng has offered the Homes for Hope project its full support for "this meaningful and important project", which is helping to build 1,000 homes and 11 infrastructure projects in Qingquan village and the Tibetan village of Shengnan.
So far, Sino Group has raised and donated HK$80,000. The group is also planning to raise more funds through its Art in Hong Kong programme. Started in 2006, the programme has organised more than 70 art exhibitions, activities, symposiums and workshops that promote local art at Sino Group properties.
Nikki Ng Mien-hua, general manager of Sino Group, said Hong Kong artist Louise Lee had agreed to donate two works.
Last week Sino Group presented "Family Matters - Works by Louise Lee", an exhibition at Central Plaza in Wan Chai, where
Ms Ng was also deeply affected by the earthquake. "It's heartbreaking. I think everyone was profoundly affected. We were all very concerned about our colleagues working in Chengdu."
In a world where companies' profits have been plunging, Mr Ng believes businesses have a corporate social responsibility to support charities and those in need.
"We need to be good corporate citizens and, as a company we hope to help societies and communities grow," he said.
"We are involved as companies in the day-to-day lives of people and communities, so the people in those communities have needs. As a good corporation, we have a certain responsibility to assist them. We are most delighted when the community benefits and is healthy and vibrant - it's a win-win situation for all."
With the Homes for Hope project, Mr Ng hopes more companies will participate in the rebuilding of lives in Sichuan.
During his visit to Sichuan, he remembers feeling a deep sadness among his countrymen, but he also saw compassion and people wanting to help others in any way possible. "After we left, the image of the clock tower really stuck with me," he said. "It was a reminder of the destroyed villages and how severe the impact was. It made me want to help rebuild Sichuan."