Experienced Rotarians in Hong Kong used to warn against the District organizing major events such as the District Conference on a weekend in March that would clash with the Sevens. The reasons are obvious. Over the years such advice has generally been well taken. One cannot expect however the practice to be extended beyond the District level, and one only hopes that the Asian Presidential Conference, which clashes with the Hong Kong Sevens, is just as successful, albeit in a different scale.
The first Hong Kong Sevens was organized in March 1976, which makes the one we just had the 27th in the series. Each one was very successful; each one was unique; each one created legends; and each one brought thousands of visitors to Hong Kong, many of whom are businessmen and investors, filling the Hong Kong Stadium to capacity. The Stadium holds 40,000 and a conservative estimate would put the number of visitors at around 25,000, which would far exceed the number of Rotarians registered for the 1999 RI Convention held in Singapore. There must be good and valid lessons to be learnt from all these; and I urge all Rotarians who are keen to see an RI Convention to take place in Hong Kong to attend a Hong Kong Sevens and soak up the atmosphere not only at the Stadium but also about and around Hong Kong, if they have not done so.
The Hong Kong Sevens has indeed become an institution not only for Hong Kong, but also for the world, and is easily the World’s Best Sevens. Many local people had said that weekend was chaotic, but the optimist would say that it was festive, colourful, energetic, youthful, and most important, international. Yes, international, which is what Hong Kong seeks to be and which is what the Hong Kong Sevens epitomizes. As host to the world, should we be deterred or feel inhibited just because it takes longer to go to Stadium area, should we be upset because Lan Kwai Fong was even more crowded than usual or because we could not book a favourite restaurant in the area or around Causeway Bay?
I had actually taken to use more public transport over the weekend than usual and had taken a few taxi trips to the Stadium from various parts of Hong Kong during the weekend. Some taxi drivers were surprised that a local was so keen in an event that is dyed-in-the wool foreign and had asked me what I was doing there. Invariably, I took the opportunity to explain to him that I was only doing the part that anyone who has a heart for Hong Kong and hopes Hong Kong to do well would do. I went on to say that no one person or institution has the monopoly to promote Hong Kong, this world product, and that anyone can and should do so, beginning by doing one’s part well.
As for the games, England scooped the Cup after a convincing performance in which the Fijians also did very well. This is the first time the English team takes the Cup in Hong Kong and I bet Lan Kwai Fong would be even more chaotic and festive last night. In a couple of days, these visitors and players from abroad would all return to their respective homes. Many of them have vouched to come back same time next year. They have become our ambassadors and that is how Hong Kong can and should remain greater.
In a few hours, in the other side of the world, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences would present Oscars. This organization comprises over 6,000 motion picture artists and craftsmen for the purposes of advancing the arts and sciences of motion pictures; foster cooperation among creative leaders for cultural, educational and technological progress; recognize outstanding achievements; cooperate on technical research and improvement of methods and equipment; provide a common forum and meeting ground for various branches and crafts; represent the viewpoint of actual creators of the motion picture; and foster educational activities between the professional community and the public-at-large. The Academy’s field of activity does not include economic, labor, or political matters and since 1927 has been organized as a nonprofit corporation under the laws of California. But over the years and increasingly, the Oscars have been politicized, and back-stabbing and skullduggery become the order of the day in the lead up to this otherwise glamourous and happy annual event. I only wish that our District Oscars would never become as such. Life is short. There are so many things to do, so many worthwhile things. In the meantime, let us consolidate and prepare ourselves to bid for an RI Convention. We deserve it.
Talk to you later.