My Dear Rotarians and friends, in particular my Action Presidents,
The last article I wrote for Kingspark News was published on 12 April 1999. A lot has happened since, and I owe it to readers of Kingspark News to explain what happened, but first I should assure readers that the club bulletin is still being published, but that the club management has been looking at ways and means to publish and distribute Kingspark News in the most energy saving, least labour intensive and environmentally friendly manner. The aim is to go completely electronic and to post the bulletin on a web page in the internet, in line with the policy objective of the District on communication between clubs and within the District. I am happy that our computer wizard Joseph Leung has re-joined our club and has been working on the project since.
Now, I left Hong Kong on 15 April for a month in Beijing to learn how to be a slightly more effective mandarin. I told Joseph Leung to send the bulletin to all club presidents and District Officials. I was unable to give him the email addresses of readers on my mailing list because they were stored on my computer which broke down in the week I left. In a hurry, I bought a new notebook computer which I carried to Beijing with a view to continue as an offshore correspondent of Kingspark News. Somehow, either my technical know-how was not up to it, or the hardware and infrastructure over there had problems. The result was that I could only communicate with Hong Kong by the more conventional means, through landlines and faxes, but no email.
Later in May, I joined the District team to visit Jiujiang for the opening of the Rotary Village which our District helped to finance, and on my return, I found myself rather busy with meetings and dinners related to the RI Directors being in Hong Kong at the time. It was extremely good experience for Rosita and myself, and certainly the first time we met so many RI Directors and officials in one go. Among them was my future Rotary boss, RI president-elect Frank Devlyn and his very pleasant wife Gloria Rita. Even as we were bidding them good-bye in Hong Kong, we were packing for Singapore where we arrived on 10 June, in good time to attend the opening session of the Rotaract Pre-Convention. I wouldn’t want to miss the great and happy occasion of our Rotaractors. The rest of June was spent attending handover meetings of clubs. There were quite a few. And by mid-July, I began accompanying District Governor Dipo Sani on his official visits to clubs.
During this period, many Rotarians had asked me what happened and specifically whether and why they had seemingly been taken off the mailing list of Kingspark News. Inquiries had come from many countries and districts in various parts of the world. I thank all our friends for the concern and continuing support, and I hope you can accept my explanation in this letter, albeit a bit late and the excuses a bit lame.
Still on my favourite bulletin, Kingspark News, I have been doing some hard thinking recently and I had discussed the matter with IPP Ted Ho, President Marco Chan and PE Tom Hui. The trio of course are the past, present and future of the club and will jointly have an important role in ensuring that the membership will act with consistency, credibility and continuity, in particular, continuity which has been and will be a primary concern in the lead up to my governorship in July 2000. Joseph Leung was also present at the meeting. I explained to them that much as I would love to continue being the editor of Kingspark News, I must learn to let go and pass the job to somebody in the club. I will of course be happy to contribute to the bulletin, and this is the first article, but I will not be its editor before I complete my governorship. The trio showed tremendous under-standing and support and agreed that that had to be the way forward.
Believe me, it was not an easy decision for me personally. I started Kingspark News. I watched it grow and flourish. I have enjoyed spending time on the editorials and lead stories. I recall the joy of members at getting the “Best Bulletin” Award from the District for a few years, and the anguish of the membership during the few months in early 1998 when the then editor resigned. I appreciate the praises heaped onto the bulletin, though I feel that they were somewhat exaggerated at times. And I had been thrilled by the feedback from readers generally. All these are dreams of an editor.
Now, I started Kingspark News to inform, educate and entertain the membership. This must remain the primary objective of a club bulletin. Now, I have heard and I am aware as its editor that Kingspark News at times carries more district and international news than club news. If I continue to be its editor in my present position as Governor-elect, I would probably tend to move even further in this direction. While this may not be a bad thing for the district overall, some would argue that a club bulletin ought not turn into a district bulletin.
Against this background, I have decided to start a newsletter to carry what I would like to share with other clubs. I would call it, as a start, “Letters from John Wan”. I would send them out by email generally, and by fax on request. I don’t know how frequently I would issue my letters, but I guess, at least monthly. This is because I have promised Governor Dipo to start a column in his Monthly Newsletter, starting with the August issue. The title of the column is “Continuity”. I have already written the first article, and I hope you like it when you see it.
As to this newsletter and this Founding Issue in particular, you would make my day if you let me have some feedback, on the idea of it as well as on its contents. I would publish them in my next Issue; and if you don’t want to receive future issues, please let me know all the same, by phone, fax or email. I would not feel offended. We live in a free society, and as Rotarians, we must respect the rights of others.