An Excellent Conference

My Dear Rotarians and friends, in particular my Action Presidents,

Governor Dipo Sani and Conference Chairman Stella Kan can rightly congratulate themselves and each other for having organized an excellent District Conference – the 40th annual conference of District 3450 held over the weekend in Macau. Read on and you may agree with what I have just said.

To start with, in the words of Clifford L. Dochterman, RI President, 1992-93, attendance at a Rotary district conference is an enjoyable experience. The Past President had said, “Most Rotarians have never attended a Rotary district conference. They have not experienced one of the most enjoyable and rewarding privileges of Rotary membership.”

For this one, there were over 520 registrations, mostly from Hong Kong. It would probably take a survey to find out the motivation behind the numbers, but it is safe to assume that many have registered for the fun and fellowship, and the inspirational and motivational speeches they can expect, or simply because of Macau, more specifically, the first one being held there after Macau was reunited with China.

We had the Chief Executive of the Macau Special Administrative Region, the Honourable Edmund Ho delivering an address at the Opening Session. Mr Ho spoke well of Rotary in general and had obviously been thoroughly briefed of President Carlo Ravizza’s theme. He came across as being supportive of Rotary and what we represent.

Past RI President MAT Caparas and Mrs Nita Caparas were personal representatives of President Carlo Ravizza and Mrs Rosanna Ravizza at our Conference. MAT was RI President in 1986-87 and his theme was Rotary Brings Hope. He is a great friend of the District. Most of our past governors know the couple very well and many had attended the conference to say hello and to hear the old friend’s words of wisdom. He had indeed a lot in store which he showered generously on conference participants. Those who had a chance to talk to him in person in between sessions, during coffee breaks and meals would have rubbed off wisdom from this seasoned and dedicated Rotarian. We were sorry that Nita was not feeling too well during the Conference and we wish her well. Nita and Rosita met in Anaheim in February and had a great time together.

I heard that some younger Rotarians had found MAT’s speeches somewhat too heavy for them. To these friends, I would urge them to look out for the Proceedings of the Conference and re-visit what he said at leisure. I hope you would then discover to your delight that the absence of jokes in his speeches is more than compensated by the distilled sagacity in between the lines. In particular, read the parts MAT expounded on the themes of his predecessors and discover how these have contributed to the maintenance of continuity in Rotary and hence to the development of the current RI theme, that all of themes had used different words to put across the same and consistent message notwithstanding.

I am glad that many of my Action Presidents-elect have responded to my call, through the Incoming Assistant Governors, to attend the traditional breakfast meeting on Sunday. Coming after an almost obligatory late night of fun and fellowship, coupled with too much wine and song, after the gratuitous entertainment at the Governor’s Banquet, I am even more impressed at the number of current and incoming presidents we had. Those who turned up would agree that what MAT said during breakfast was worth their efforts to be up that early; and I hope the Findings Committee would dutifully produce a record of what transpired.

I was actually collared by Kenneth Chow for a record of what I said. Well, I would never refuse Kenneth Chow’s reasonable requests; and besides, it offers me a chance to say what I had wanted to say but which I had not for various reasons. Here is what I am going to give my friend Kenneth.

“It is always a pleasure listening to Past President MAT. Yesterday, he shared with us his insight on the background of the RI themes of a number of RI Presidents and expounded on these themes. This morning, he gave us more reasons for being in Rotary and encouraged us, the incoming presidents amongst us in particular, to sojourn with the adventure regardless of what we have inherited from our predecessors. It seems that Past President MAT has asked to look on the bright side, which is always a healthy thing to do.

I am particularly inspired by what Past President MAT said about words wouldn’t inspire, but that action would. This fits amicably with what RI President-elect Frank Devlyn has urged all Rotarians to do through his theme for 2000-2001. There are two limbs to the theme. In the first, we are asked to create awareness, specifically create awareness in our club, in our community and in our world of the problems around and abound. The second limb asks us to take action. Yes, take action. That is why I would be calling the Presidents-elect Action Presidents from July 2000, in the same way that Frank Devlyn has called my fellow governors-elect Action Governors. All of you would-be Action Presidents will take action with me to address the problems facing us.

But you don’t have to wait for July 2000 to start taking action. There is no beginning and no end in this entreprise of Rotary. Once Rotarians are committed to a cause, they would take it to its logical conclusion. Governor Dipo told you just now that he, Anthony Hung and I had been meeting since July 1999 to address the main issues of the District. We actually started a bit earlier than that. We started those meetings in March 1999; and as soon as Governor Nominee Johnson came on the scene, we brought him into the loop. In short, we are very serious about continuity in general and continuity in leadership in particular. Against this background, I urge the Presidents-elect not to wait till July 2000 to act. Now is as good a time to act as any. Act now, before it is too late. Take action with your new board, and most important of all, take action with your predecessors and your successors. This is what continuity is all about.

Lastly, don’t wait any longer to promote the District Installation. Governor Dipo and I have decided to hold this very important event on Thursday 29 June 2000 to mark the changeover of leadership in the District. It will be a major public relations exercise to promote Rotary’s image. Your support for the event is vital. Let me stress this. The District Installation is not a function to promote Governor Dipo or myself. We don’t need that, for neither of us is seeking a second term. This is a function to promote Rotary in general and District 3450 in particular. We need you and your members to be there, the more the merrier, and the more the more meaningful. I expect to see all of you there in great numbers, as a show of solidarity and leadership in the District. Thank you.”

Well, those of you who were there at the breakfast would recall that none of the speakers had a script; and I leave you to decide which version of my speech you prefer, and give me some feedback perhaps.

Talk to you soon.

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