General

I am on my way

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

Tonight I will embark on a journey, which I have been looking forward to for some time. In fact, by the time you read this, if you read this, I should be half way round the globe flying to Los Angeles, if not already there. This is the first leg of my journey to Anaheim for the International Assembly (IA) that will start on 3rd and finish on 11th February. Many senior Rotarians refer to the IA as the Rotary University, and I have been assured by many PDG friends that the IA is probably the single most enjoyable experience for a Rotarian attending for the first time, normally as Governor-elect, or in the past, Governor-nominee. Yesterday, a few PDGs called me up to wish me all the best and more or less instructed me to enjoy the IA. I promised them I will.

I am making this trip with Rosita and our son Lawrence. In Los Angeles, we would meet Rosita’s family and our daughter Stephanie who by now should be flying down from San Francisco. Meanwhile, Rosita’s siblings would be making journeys from nearby towns and cities to meet us. Gloria, her brother’s wife, has reminded us not to fill our stomach with junk food on the plane, for she has arranged a proper and decent reception party for us. Then, there would be another proper and possibly bigger dinner to celebrate the arrival of the Year of the Dragon. This will be the first time for many years Rosita will be with her family around Chinese New Year, and in fact our first outside Hong Kong together.

This is all very exciting. Over the last months, since July 1999, I have been receiving reading materials and letters from Evanston preparing governors-elect for Anaheim. In these literatures, Rosita and I have been assured, jointly and separately, that we can expect a great time.

Well, it’d better be, for we have prepared for this trip for some time, both mentally and physically. The training for governors-elect and their spouse has been known to be well organized, thorough, serious, intense and motivating. I have yet to hear a disparaging word about IA. In fact, someone has said that it would make the hard work of the year ahead worthwhile.

Meanwhile at Anaheim right now, the Training Leaders are being trained to train us. It means that Frank Devlyn’s theme, his song, if any, and his targets and objectives are by now an open book to these Rotarians. Well, I would find out next week. Indeed, for those of you who are keen, go to the RI website on 4 February West Coast time, you would find the logo, theme and other stuff.

Talking of Frank Devlyn, I think he would probably go down in the annals of Rotary as the first Internet President or cyberpres. He is intent on communicating through the Internet and he has already asked all his governors-elect to appoint someone in the district to be the District Internet Communications Officer. For our district, there is no better and more worthy person than the current DECC Chairman, President-elect Bill Benter of RC of Kowloon North. Come to think of it, your district leadership has foresight. The DECC was created towards the end of Anthony Hung’s term and jointly between the present Continuity Trio, viz., Anthony, Dipo and myself.

Still on electronic communication, Frank has built up his own Website which is linked to websites of all districts that have them, and has put on it his speeches to Rotary Clubs and Rotary Institutes, to the Rotary Foundation at the Rotary Club of Heirisson, Australia, and recently, his speech to governors-elect which he made into a video and sent to every one of us. It was meant to be the second video. I received it a week or two after I was back from the Taipei Institute, but somehow, I did not receive the first one, which I was told, features Frank and Gloria Rita sitting in their office talking to all governor-elect through the camera.

One thing comes across rather clearly from the speeches of Frank Devlyn. He is serious about maintaining continuity, one of the key elements in the current year theme. He wants to see action. Indeed, he ended three of the four speeches with something akin to a slogan – Create Awareness, Take Action. The consistency has prompted some senior Rotarians and RI Officers to guess that that would be Frank Devlyn’s theme for 2000-2001. Well, all would be out in the air in a week, and in any case, the current thinking appears to be that the Rotary theme from now would take on a different meaning and function, compared with past years. You are welcome to read my thinking on this from my Continuity Column in the January Issue of DG Dipo’s Newsletter entitled, “What would my successor think?” So, my friends, there are no prizes for guessing the theme right.

Frank Devlyn is also very keen on Task Forces, which he calls Presidential Task Forces. In fact, he has asked us to identify a person in each district to be the District Task Force Coordinator. He also has a list of his interests which he calls “2000-2002 Key Interests of Frank J Devlyn” which he said he placed on his desk daily to remind himself of the challenges ahead. Top on the list are membership development and membership retention. Once again, he has asked us to appoint someone to be the District Membership Task Force Chairman. I am working on these two appointments and I welcome suggestions and volunteers.

Yesterday, I sent out a few messages to get things organized for my year, to start things rolling, so to say. You can look at it as a preparatory committee or whatever you want to call it, but as I have said so very often before, it is never too early to start. For my Presidents-Elect, please make sure you block your diary for 11 March. This is your Presidents-Elect Training Seminar or PETS attendance for which is obligatory for presidents-elect. We would start at 9:00am sharp and finish before 4:00pm. The venue is Miramar Hotel. Come with your Club Secretary. PDG Raymond Wong is my District Trainer and Past President Alexander Mak of Kingspark is the host club chairman. Go to them if you have any questions before my return on 17 February.

For the Assistant Governors and District Secretaries, I have planned a training session for you at the Hyatt Regency Hotel BoardRoom on Saturday 4 March, a week ahead of PETS. It will be a three-hour session, from 9:00a.m. to noon. We must finish by noon, for it would be $1000 per hour plus service charges and overhead if we overrun. I urge you all to come. Past Presidents Alice Liu and Kenneth Chow are assisting in the organization and will be in touch with you soon.

Lastly, I intend to operate through committees and on the advice of experienced Rotarians in the District. I am appointing a Central Policy Unit to advise me on major policy issues. It would operate similar to a Cabinet and would formalize the proceedings of DG Dipo’s Continuity Meeting which he would continue to chair in his term. Past President Alice Liu is my District Secretary (Committee) and will effectively be the Cabinet Secretary. During my absence, she would organize the first provisional meeting, scheduled for 2 March at 6:00p.m. at the Trophy Room of Kowloon Cricket Club, Cox Road, Kowloon. I am sorry that time has not allowed me to talk to all individuals concerned before I leave. I hope those involved would understand and would accept the appointments when Alice Liu approaches them on my behalf. I would come to you in person to explain on my return. Until then, I wish you well. I wish you would have a very happy and prosperous Year of the Dragon, and whatever you do, and wherever you are, I hope you have a good holiday.

Talk to you soon.

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