Preparing for 2000 – 2001

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

We live in exciting times. Within a fortnight, all sorts of things happened in Hong Kong, China and the world, ranging from plane crashes to border conflicts, unnecessary human sufferings, and more earthquakes. Thus, we had the Egyptair crash of Flight 990; the crash of a UN plane in Kosovo with more than two dozen men from the peacekeeping force; we had more tremors reported from Taiwan and even more serious ones, in Duzce, Turkey with death tolls exceeding 370 and many more missing; we had Russia’s President Boris Yeltsin explaining that “Russian soldiers and officers are bringing peace back to the long-suffering Chechen land”; we had unrest and more atrocities uncovered by the peacekeeping force in East Timor, even as President Abdurrahman Wahid was being sworn in as Indonesia’s new leader; and in Iraq, the American war against Saddam Hussein continues. All rather depressing news. Then Andrew Wong – remember, PDG Raymond’s brother – forwarded me an even more depressing message about how women in Afghanistan were being systematically abused and wasted under the Taliban regime.

There were actually less depressing news, such as the Sino-American trade talk on China joining WTO. Those officers must be working very hard. At mid-day news time, they were still talking. Then Bill Clinton began his 10-day European tour, with emphases on Turkey and Kosovo. Back in Hong Kong, we had David Lan leading a team of colleagues and flanked by Bob Allcock attending a UN hearing of the Human Rights Committee in Geneva on the first report on Hong Kong’s implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The media gave the Democrats a good run initially and many people had expected the Hong Kong team coming back battered and tattered. Well, what happened was, the occasion had actually given Hong Kong a forum to speak to a few issues clearly and unequivocally. The Committee’s Concluding Remarks were in fact rather positive and even appreciative of the efforts of the Hong Kong team. Then there was the changing of guards at Broadcasting House, and of course the Tracker Fund and Disneyland. Some news, in particular the one on Mickey and Mini Mouse, are actually rather upbeat, but there are always people who would choose to be different and who would be allowed sufficient air time to say their piece. In a way, it is a reflection that we have a free press and that the Administration is serious about freedom of speech and about upholding the rights of the individual.

Before I go on, let me remind you that November is Rotary Foundation Month. PDG Y K Cheng is Chairman of the District Committee and PDG Jason Yeung is Chairman of the Information Sub-Committee. Get them to speak to your club this month. They are both good value.

Last night, we had two clubs celebrating their anniversary. Kowloon West has completed 38 years of service and had their celebrations in Miramar Hotel in Tsimshatsui. Governor Dipo went there to start the evening, making sure that Renuka would represent him at the party at Island Shangri-La Hotel where Hong Kong Northeast had their 16th Anniversary Ball. I arrived shortly after 8p.m. It was my fourth function of the day since 2p.m., the other three not being Rotary related though. The evening was very relaxing. Dipo arrived around 9p.m., in time for the wholesome and family entertainment programmes put together by the membership. The lady from the Xian Project spoke passionately and convincingly when Rotarians and guest should dig deep into their pockets. The project was about providing funds for a centre for destitute and handicapped children in Xian. She said with the aid of a set of slides that all those children would have died without the financial support. A few other clubs in the District are also involved, including Hong Kong Bayview and Bayview Sunshine. They promised to raise $70,000. After the appeal by the lady, the amount was more than doubled. Very good indeed. The evening was slightly different from last year’s Bavarian Night which was still very much on people’s mind, but it was equally fun and meaningful.

Also happened last week was the fellowship meeting between presidents-elect on Friday, 12 at Igors in Stanley, Hong Kong Island. Again, it was a truly fun and fellowship evening. I would say no more than that. You can ask those who were there to testify. There were quite a few. To start with, over one-third of the presidents-elect turned up, quite a few for the first time, which was good. In addition, we had a few oldies, including PDG Raymond Wong and AG Kenneth Chow who will be my District Trainer and District Secretary respectively next year, PP Jones Wong, PP Joe Joe Chan, CP Herbert Lau, PP James Yick, PP Tenny Leung and PDG Anthony Hung. It turned out to be the 60th birthday of Stephen Shum (Mid-level PE) who bought us champagne. God bless him. I made a few announcements on certain key dates, as PDG Raymond Wong promoted the RI Presidential Conference to be held in Hong Kong from 25 to 27 February 2000. For the benefits of the presidents-elect who could not make the occasion, I would repeat these dates below.

RI Presidential Conference – 25-27 February 2000

This will be the first time an RI Presidential Conference will be held in Hong Kong. Raymond Wong is Chairman of the Organizing Committee and Y K Cheng, Chairman of Host Committee. It will be held in Regent Hotel. For more information, contact your club president or Raymond Wong. Please register early. We hope to have 25% of the membership in the district registered for the Conference.

Assistant Governors Training – 4 March 2000

All Incoming Assistant Governors will attend and share the experience that I would bring back from Anaheim, including the them, the logo and other memorabilia. Venue to be announced nearer the time.

Presidents-elect Training Seminar – 11-12 March 2000

Attendance is obligatory for presidents-elect. Key district officials will also be invited to attend. This will be an overnight seminar outside Hong Kong. There will be a Spouse Programme. So please mark your diary and notify your spouse early.

District Assembly – 6 May 2000

This will be a training session for Incoming Officers. Please encourage them to attend.

Qingyuan Revisited – 21-23 April 2000

This will be a Fellowship-cum-Service Trip to Qingyuan in Quangdong. A few years ago when PDG LIU Lit-mo was District Governor, the district raised funds to enable Qingyuan to build a new village for the flood-displaced villagers. My plan now is to re-visit the place and see first-hand how projects of this nature can and have helped change the lives of those who need our help. It will also be an occasion, and an excellent one, to enable the presidents-elect to get to know each other better and sooner. I hope our spouse will join the trip. So, again, talk to them early.

District Installation – 29 June 2000

Anthony Hung, Dipo and myself all feel that it would be better for the District to hold one Installation Meeting, one large scale, visible and memorable event to be participated by all clubs. When the idea was floated to clubs during Governor Dipo’s club visits, there was consensus that this would be best for the District. So, mark your diary. I would be in touch with you on this.

Talk to you soon.

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