Contents Highlights

Battling with hard times


More than 10 years ago, Inspector Mr Tsang Kwong-biu was a sniper serving with an elite unit of the Police. Unfortunately, after an accident and a stroke, he lost all movement in his right arm. Since then, the sharpshooter could no longer hold a gun and take part in frontline operations.

Despite all these setbacks, he didn't give up.

Mr Tsang continues to equip himself with up-to-date knowledge and keeps up his volunteer work. OffBeat asked him how he could successfully ride out the hard times with confidence.

'Sniper Tsang' now designs training programmes at the Police Tactical Unit

In November 1982, Mr Tsang explained, he took up the challenge to join the Special Duties Unit (SDU). Because of his good eyesight and physical strength, the cool-headed officer was specially selected for sniper training. Later on, he became the officer-in-charge of the SDU's medical support team that provided on-the-spot assistance to fellow members.

But what happened on January 15, 1991 virtually changed his life.

He recalled: "On that day, I was with other SDU members receiving special training with the US Navy Seals in Virginia, USA. We staged a joint rescue exercise in the open sea. It was a simulated incident of an attack in which some terrorists hijacked a warship and we had to climb aboard it to rescue the hostages.

"When I climbed from a speedboat to the deck of the warship, a four-inch diameter steel cable suddenly snapped. I fell 30 feet straight down into the boat. Though I was still conscious, I could hardly move."

Mr Tsang suffered multiple fractures to his knees, collarbone, back and ribs in the accident. Worse still, one of his nerves was severed and his right arm was paralysed. He was subsequently taken back to Hong Kong for emergency medical treatment.

In July 1991, he faced another setback. Soon after he had undergone two major operations, he suffered a stroke to the brain and the whole right side of his body was paralysed. His life was saved after a nine-hour brain surgery session.

"All these setbacks had dealt a serious blow to me," he said. "After I sustained injuries, I thought I was useless. Before that, my physical strength was strong. When I saw my colleagues happily attending range, I was reminded that I couldn't do it any more. It was very depressing indeed."

Mr Tsang got little good news from his doctor either. He said: "My doctor told me that my right arm was 100 per cent permanently disabled, as my arm hadn't been able to move an inch two years after the reattachment of my nerves."

Instead of blaming everyone and everything, he didn't give up. He kept doing exercises in the hope that his arm would one day start to move. "I knew that my muscles would atrophy if I didn't move my hand, and that doing exercises could help me recover. Hence, I used a stick to help me do so. I grasped it with both my hands and then I lifted my left arm so as to trigger movement to my right arm.

"One day, in 1993, my right arm was able to move half an inch after exercising. I was extremely happy."

Now, Mr Tsang's right arm is 15 per cent disabled and he cannot hold heavy objects like guns. He also has difficulties in using chopsticks with his right hand.

During the hard times, Mr Tsang remained optimistic. He took some management courses at his own cost and time to prepare for future challenges and he also attended paramedic courses.

Mr Tsang, now 43, is working at the Police Tactical Unit where he is responsible for designing training programmes. Vested with medical expertise, he also gives talks to fellow policemen on how to handle gunshot wounds.

Mr Tsang is still a sports enthusiast. He said: "Even though my right arm can't move exactly as I wish, I can still play football. I can still go jogging for 35 minutes every day."

As a Christian, Mr Tsang said his religious belief, together with the support and encouragement of his family, colleagues and friends, all played a vital role in his miracle recovery.

He said: "When my colleagues knew that I couldn't do certain things, they lent me a helping hand instantly. My family also encouraged me from time to time. My elder brother often accompanied me to the hospital."

Looking back, he feels no regret at joining the SDU. "I learned a lot there. There are a lot of things like weapons training and tactics that I couldn't learn elsewhere. Moreover, I met many sworn friends there."

Apart from his daily work, Mr Tsang doesn't miss any chance to help others. He continues to work as a voluntary first-aid instructor at the Saint John Ambulance Brigade. He also visits hospitals and homes for the elderly to encourage patients and the elderly to stay positive.

"Because of the accident, I had been in and out of hospitals for years. I know by my personal experience that patients are quite depressed during hospitalisation. Therefore, I use my experience to talk to the patients in orthopaedic wards."

Mr Tsang is no stranger to adversity, but each time he has emerged stronger than before. He added: "There is a song - 'Tomorrow is a better day'. Don't carry your worries and pain to a new day. It won't help. When you encounter difficulties, you should try to talk to your family members, friends and colleagues or seek professional advice. Light is always at the end of the tunnel. Know your abilities, set a goal and go for it."

Inspector Mr Tsang Kwong-biu: handling a 15 percent disability

Editor: Peter Tiu: 2866-6171
Reporter: Elain Chu: 2866-6172
David Slough: 2866-6173
Photographers: Benny Ho: 2866-6174
Almon Suen: 2866-6174
Fax: 2866-4161
Address: OffBeat, PPRB, 4/F, Harcourt House,
39 Gloucester Road, Wan Chai.
Deadline for next edition: April 24

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