Time for changes?

The excitement, the madness, the agony, the ecstasy, the twisted faces, the paints on various parts of the body, the joy, the sensations, the suffering, the disappointment, the yellow and red cards, and so on will continue to be with us for another week until the Cup Final, which will coincide with the anniversary of the Rotary Club of Tai Po, and for which the members no doubt will be all geared up to soak up the atmosphere in full with their guests. The Sunday Morning Post editorialized South Korea’s win and place in the quarterfinal and hailed soccer as “the beautiful game of unity” for Asians, calling it “the great leveler” and the world’s most popular sport. Now there is no excuse not to watch the remaining three or four matches.

Meanwhile, Rotarians worldwide are making their way to Barcelona for the annual Rotary International Convention. No doubt, representatives from the District, led by Governor Johnson, will have a great time, notwithstanding a much lower than expected turnout, and will tell us what happened there when they return. What is more significant is that a number of senior Rotarians in the District have started the process of bidding to host the 2009 RI Convention in Hong Kong. The next few months will be critical and we need all the energy and resources we can garner from members in the District to make the bidding successful.

The delegation to Barcelona will not be able, however, to witness a historical moment in the political development in the administration of Hong Kong, now scheduled for Monday mid-morning when the Chief Executive will announce the new line-up of his Executive Council and Principal Officials, also known as ministers. Christine Loh, a former member of the Legislative Council, predicts that the new ministers will likely face a baptism of fire after a short honeymoon with the legislators. She is very likely to be on the mark, and our lively and zealous media will make sure that all skeletons in the cupboards will be in full view of a devouring public and a highly critical legislature. Little wonder why a few of my senior colleagues have been reported to have no stomach for these high offices.

Back to our Rotary world and our District in particular, I wonder whether the District leadership would take any hints from the impending changes in the political scene. I can hear chanting even as I type that Rotary is not a political organization and not about politics. But I am not talking about politics either. More importantly, it would be foolhardy to think that members of an organization and institution as sophisticated and mature as Rotary can divorce themselves from civic duties and public offices.

Rotary International itself has been asking the membership to question the relevancy of the organization at every level. For a few years, the RI leadership has urged district governors and club presidents to make themselves relevant in the community which they pledge to serve. I challenge all of you in Hong Kong to address this last question honestly, based on the 4-Way Test. It would take short of an independent survey to find out how we are perceived in Hong Kong, but it would be more meaningful to build on our strengths than to look back or to rest on our past laurels.

As we approach the end of a Rotary year, now is as good as any time to address these fundamental issues and to find alternative means to deal with our problems. I am convinced we have among us sufficient talents and resources to take us to a next phase, thereby making Rotary more relevant not only in the District, but also in the Mainland, which is where our presence will be needed most.

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