Merry Christmas

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

Wen Huang, if you don’t know him, is a Public Relations Consultant at RI Headquarters, Evanston, which would make him Rotary’s spin-doctor, I suppose. He is quite a likeable character – warm, sensitive and helpful. I first met him at the meeting when Jason handed over the district’s governorship to Anthony, in Hong Kong, some 18 months ago. I recall he was gathering facts for then Incoming RI President James Lacy, in preparation for his visit two months later. We became friends and I put him on my mailing list. I met him in Taipei recently. We were attending the 1999 Taipei Rotary Institute. One of the first things he said to me was that I apologized too much in my letters. He repeated the advice, albeit jokingly, a couple of times before we said good-bye to each other. Now, you must remember that Wen is a spin-doctor and a friend, which means that what he says carry weight. Well, I can immediately think of two propositions: either he hasn’t known me long enough, or I don’t have too many friends. For, thus far, I have not been known to be good at apologies. It could be a sign that I am changing, as I grow older and hopefully changing for the better. If that is the case, it can’t be bad. So, next time, if I fail to apologize, I hope you know why. So much for an introduction, and thank you, Wen.

Approaching December, in fact leaving now, the days are not only getting shorter physically. Somehow, I simply don’t know how the days have slipped by. I suppose that applies to most people. Before we know, Macau has become an SAR of China and hence part of us. The District Governor of 3450 can no longer boast that he is governor of one district, two countries. Indeed, during the flag parade at the Zone Institute in Taipei, the point was made that the Portuguese flag was flying in our Zone Institute for the last time.

Talking of the Zone Institute, it was a very successful event. Rosita and I went early for the Pre-Institute District Governors Elect Zone Level Training Seminar. PDG David Kwong Choong Ho, RI Training Leader from D-3300, was our Training Leader. David is very good. He is knowledgeable, sincere, supportive and inspiring. You would probably find his style slightly different from Moses Cheng or Y K Cheng of or District – they were both RI Training Leaders – but there is no shadow of doubt that all these men are highly motivated people who have excelled in various fields and who are obvious leaders and effective trainers. In fact, listening to these people helps one understand why Rotary appears to be doing better than some other service organizations in membership development, that we have suffered a decline in the past two consecutive years notwithstanding.

I met most of my classmates from the three zones – 4B, 6B and 7B. In English, it means that I met all but one of the governors-elect from Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia. There should be 26 of us, including myself representing Hong Kong and Macau, 7 from Taiwan, 10 from Philippines, 4 from Thailand, and one each from the rest of the countries. Rosita was to have met all the spouse, but not all of them turned up. We had a great time eating, chatting, taking pictures and exchanging cards. One classmate from Thailand gave us a box of enucleated dried loongngan with advice that they would be good for my constitution. I probably need plenty of those in the months ahead.

I would not talk further on the Institute itself, except to echo what President Carlo Ravizza said at the Closing that it was probably one of the better if not the best Zone Institutes he had attended. It was his 11th Zone Institute and the last he would attend as RI President. He obviously had a great time. As for myself, I am trying to squeeze time to put down some thoughts on the Taipei Institute, while it is still fresh, so to say, but it won’t be easy. Hong Kong will host the next Zone Institute, in November 2000. PDG Arthur Au has been appointed Chairman and has already reminded me that I would be the Governor at the time. No doubt, you would be hearing from Arthur and me on this, and when you do, I hope you would give us the support we need.

Christmas is just round the corner. PDG Y K Cheng and I are now geared up to spend Christmas on that small piece of land adjoining Sai Kung West Country Park, off Hoi Ha, known as Wan Tsai, not to be confused with Wanchai where I work. It is going to be cold, very cold. We hope that the parents would not get cold feet and disallow their children attending the Youth Jamboree. As far as we are concerned, the cold could be conducive to character building. So my friends, pray for us and think of us – many Rotarians and 2000 young people – while you are carving your turkey and sipping champagne. As for me, I would not forgive myself if I fail to send my friends my best wishes for the holiday seasons. I wish you well. I wish you health, prosperity and happiness. I wish you blue sky and clean air. I wish that you would always be among friends and loved ones. I wish that you can eat and drink to your heart’s delight without having to worry about what your good doctors often worry about. I wish you would have sufficient time for rest and that you sleep well. I wish you would go to bed smiling and wake up with a broader smile. I wish you would forgive and forget whoever wronged you and pray for them instead for they need your prayers. I wish all your prayers would be answered. I wish you could always find time and money for service and charity. Finally, I wish you would take your friends to Rotary meetings and introduce them to Rotary.

Talk to you soon.

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