More on Ten Years On

Frank Devlyn read some of my articles on the website and thought I was writing a book or had published one. He volunteered to endorse my book which he was confident would boost sale and hence help Rotary, either in the form of donations to the Rotary Foundation or of membership development. Frank certainly has a big heart and still tries every means to help his amigos ten years on.

Some of you may recall that I did publish a book by putting together all my published letters, speeches and articles written in the two years or so leading to 1 July 2001 when I handed over the District to Johnson Chu. “Letters from a Rotarian” came out in print on 20 July 2001 and I had provided ordering information then on the District Website and assured readers that all proceeds would go to the Rotary Foundation. I notice that the information is still on the website, but I cannot recall who, if any, has taken heed of it, for in the end, I gave away most of the books free, sometimes at club meetings, and left with the hope that the members would read them and send some money to the Rotary Foundation. I think I need to have that particular page on the website removed soon to avoid possible confusion.

Ten years on; and I have been putting articles on the websites all these years though not as diligently and regularly as before or as I had hoped to; the thought of publishing a sequel to my first book came up a few times, normally in my weak moments when I would crave to leave something for posterity. Somehow I am glad that I am a lazy sod who needs very strong motivation for such things to happen. Besides, I have not exactly been idle.

I left off in my last letter with rather skimpy details on the last ten years or the Ten-Year-Reunion. Let me see if I can do slightly better this time.

On 1 July 2000, District 3450 comprised 49 clubs, with 42 clubs in Hong Kong, six in Macau and one in Mongolia. The District was renamed for the first time as the District of Hong Kong, Macau and Mongolia and I think I still have the documentation for the change. We had between 1,500 to 1,600 members; and RI had urged us to bring the number closer to 2,000, lest we might be required to merge with another district. A year later when Johnson took the chair, the position remained roughly the same, as far as number of clubs and number of members were concerned. Ten years on, on 1 July 2011, David Harilela inherited from Jason 64 clubs, 50 in Hong Kong, six in Macau and eight in Mongolia, with total membership at around 1,730. David’s aim is to bring the total membership to 2,000 in two years’ time.

The statistics outlined show that whereas the number of clubs has increased by over 30% in the past ten years, the total membership has only grown by just over 10%. Indeed, membership of the Rotary world has been hovering around the 1.2 million mark for over ten years, despite strenuous efforts by successive RI presidents to work on membership development. All of us certainly need to work very hard to make David’s dream come true.

Back to the Action Team, I began collecting and updating their email addresses two months before 3 June 2011, the date set for the Reunion of the Decade. It was hard work; and the fact that I do not operate an office did not help. Towards the end of April, I sent out the first notice. Overnight, I had more than a dozen responses, mostly positive. At the same time, I also received many bounced-back emails, while I got help from the Action Team for updates on the address list and for locating a few strayed sheep.

By now, I can say with some pride that we have tracked down 40 of the 49 Action Presidents and 14 of the 17 Action AGs and DSs. In other words, we have yet to regain contacts with 12 or so on the Team. Naturally, a few in the Team have since left their Rotary clubs, but that ought not stop us trying to bring them back to the fold.

I need not dwell on the fact that a few on the Action Team have since assumed leadership position in the District: two AGs, namely Jones Wong and Peter Wong, became Governors, as was the District Treasurer, Alexander Mak; one DS, namely Kenneth Chow is now District Rotary Foundation Chair; and three Action Presidents, namely Peter Wan, Tony Wong and Ada Cheng are now all Past Governors.

That there are so many leaders in the same Class has however generated peculiar problems. As a start, each past governor traditionally and obligatorily organizes his or her own reunion, causing inevitable strains on diary management. These dinners not only eat into individuals’ private time, but also tend to sap their energies which could be better channeled for service work. A balance needs to be struck somehow. One solution could be that all past governors can be tasked to organize reunions across the entire District by which they can help champion the causes of the governor of the day, either in fund raising or in appealing for support within the District.

Let me hasten to add that the achievements of many on the Team are no less impressive than the few I have highlighted. Service through Rotary is only one of the many ways by which one can contribute one’s energies and talents to serve mankind and humanity. Working hard to be a good parent, a good spouse, a good employer or a better person in general is never easy and can take a person’s whole life to perfect. I suggest that this is what happened to most of the people who attended the last reunion in June. Each and every one gave an account, albeit a very much simplified one, of what happened in his or her life in the past ten years. Their accounts have inspired me with confidence in mankind and respect and esteem for the bearers of such accounts. I look forward to our next reunion.

Talk to you later.

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