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A Rich Heritage that needs a richer future

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Twice a year - once in celebration of New Year’s in December and once on the occasion of the Queen’s official birthday in June - the British Government announces its lists of people who have received Honours. This year, I was fortunate and grateful to have been one of the thousand or so people who received the letter that announced we had been recognised. I am now proud to be a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (a CBE), awarded for political service, which has mostly been focused on building strong ties between China, Chinese communities and the Labour Party.

每年12月庆祝新年和6月庆祝女王生日的时候,英国政府会公布那些获得政府嘉奖的人士的名单。今年,我幸运并荣幸地收到了嘉奖令,成为一千名左右获奖者中的一员。我对自己被授予大英帝国司令勋章颇感自豪,这是褒奖我在政治服务领域,特别是推动中国以及华人社会和工党的紧密联系方面,所作出的努力。

As my new title suggests, the Honours system in the United Kingdom has a rich heritage that stretches back to the 12th Century when the Most Noble Order of the Garter was created by Edward III. Since then another five orders of chivalry and four orders of merit have been established, each with their own varied levels of award, to recognise people who have made significant contributions to the United Kingdom. For example, my CBE is the second highest class of the Order of the British Empire.

从我的授勋头衔即可看出,英国的授勋嘉奖制度有着丰富的历史积淀,可以追溯到12世纪爱德华三世创立嘉德勋章的时代。从那以后,授勋制度又增加了五个骑士勋章和四个功绩勋章, 各有其不同的嘉奖等级。这些勋章被授予那些对联合王国做出重要贡献的人士。比如,我的司令勋章在大英帝国勋章中就是仅次于一等的第二等级。

While the Honours system is a long-standing British tradition, it is not without criticism - whether in the military connotations of its titles or the legacy of the Empire that it refers to. Alluding to that history of the Empire understandably stirs up memories for many across the countries of the Empire who suffered at the hands of the British.

尽管授勋制度是英国一项悠久的传统,人们对此并非没有微词,无论是对其头衔所带有的军事含义,还是其反映的英帝国历史,都有批评之声。而提到英帝国的历史,自然会勾起许多曾在英帝国统治下遭受苦难的人们不悦的回忆。

Because of that history and its connections to the British class system, some have refused the honours they have been awarded. That is not my path, because every country in the world knows that we all have chapters filled with shame in the story of our past. The question for me is to ask what parts of our heritage and traditions can be brought into the modern world with relevance and meaning.

由于这样的历史及其与授勋制度的联系,一些人拒绝接收颁发给他们的勋章。这却不是我的处世之道,因为世界上任何一个国家都知道其历史中曾有过不光彩的一页。我关心的是,我们的遗产和传统中还有什么能与现今的世界发生关联并产生积极的意义。

Recognising people’s contributions to the fabric of a joint society is important; it validates the commitment people have made to a joint society and champions the type of contribution we hope for in our citizens - be they in charity, community work, cultural achievements or even politics! That is why I am proud to have received such an honour - it is an acknowledgement for my commitment to our society. It is a type of recognition especially important in the United Kingdom, which is becoming an increasingly diverse mosaic of a country, as it can help ensure that we move forward together as one society, rather than drifting apart into separated and isolated communities.  

认可人们对于社会各个方面所做出的贡献是重要的,这不仅肯定了人们对其所处社会所作的承诺,也表彰了我们期待公民应为社会所作的贡献,无论这些贡献来自慈善、社区工作、文化成果甚至政治方面。这就是我为什么对获得嘉奖感到自豪,因为这是对我为社会所作贡献的肯定。这种肯定在英国这个越发多元化的国家显得尤为重要,因为它能确保我们的社会作为一个整体共同进步,而不是像一盘散沙成为各自分立和疏离的族群。

This is where one of the systems biggest challenges lies - that it is too slow in reflecting the demographic tapestry of this country. It took until this year’s New Year’s Honours List for women to be awarded more honours than men. And even though that is progress, this does not stretch to ethnic minorities. Only 5% of honourees in the New Year’s Honours were from ethnic minority backgrounds.

而这正是授勋制度面临的最大挑战,它在应对这个国家的人口和族群变化方面反应得太迟钝了。直到今年新年的授勋名单中,女性获奖者的人数才第一次超过了男性。尽管有了进步,但在对少数族裔的授勋方面仍乏善可陈,在今年新年的授勋中,只有5%的获奖人来自少数族裔的背景。

The Chinese community - the third largest ethnic minority in the country - has only two honourees in this Queen’s Birthday list; myself and Lady Katy Tse Blair. Lady Blair is an incredible contributor to her communities - Islington and the Chinese communities - as she set up the Islington Chinese Association, which promotes social cohesion in the borough, city and country she now calls her home. There are many more members of the Chinese community who are like her and like me; striving to make a positive contribution to the country that has given us so much opportunity.

华人社会作为这个国家中第三大少数族裔,在本次女王生日的授勋名单中只有两位获奖者,我本人和谢锦霞女士。谢锦霞女士为她所在的依士灵顿区及当地华人社区做出了非凡的贡献。她发起建立了依士灵顿华人协会,去推动这个被她视做自己国家的社会的和谐。英国有着许许多多像谢锦霞女士和我一样的华人,正努力地为这个给予我们良多机遇的国家做出积极的贡献。

Yet they are not recognised. There are many reasons for why this is the case - from the lingering legacy of prejudices past to even something as simple as low awareness in ethnic minority communities that you have to nominate candidates. It is a problem that can be overcome.

然而,他们还没有得到认可。个中原因很多,既有长久以来对少数族裔的偏见,也有少数族裔缺乏提名自己候选人的意识等甚为简单原因。这些问题是可以克服。

And it must be overcome. For the honours system, with all its rich heritage, to stay relevant and be meaningful in the modern world, it must more accurately reflect the rich diversity that is now the social fabric of the United Kingdom. I hope that the recognition of my contribution and that of Lady Blair is only a stepping stone to a much greater and deeper appreciation of what the Chinese community has brought and continues to bring to this wonderful country.

我们必须克服这些问题。富有传统的授勋制度要想和现今的世界接轨并产生现实意义,就必须更准确地反映出英国社会组成的多样化。我希望谢锦霞女士和我的获奖能够抛砖引玉,让华人社会为这个伟大国家在过去和未来所作的贡献得到更多的嘉奖。

By Sonny Leong. Publisher and Chair, Chinese for Labour.

悠久的传统期待着内涵更丰富的未来

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