Time to focus on the big picture

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 June, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 June, 1997, 12:00am

Our finest hour is almost upon us and it is time we stopped navel-gazing and looked ahead with confidence and a sense of purpose.

Yet even at this joyous moment some in our community are agitated by the swearing in of provisional legislature members at 1.30am on July 1.

Some are concerned by the snub by Britain and the United States, whose representatives have announced boycotts of their induction. Yet others are deeply worried by the 'legal vacuum' between the termination of colonial laws and the enactment of SAR ones.

The fluttering of last-minute nerves is perfectly understandable and comparable to the last-minute pre-nuptial fretting just before the groom and bride head for the altar.

This is especially so, considering Hong Kong's marriage to the mainland will be watched by a global audience, after round-the-clock coverage by 8,000 journalists.

My advice is that we get a grip on ourselves rather than be swept up by euphoria or panicked by stage fright.

The issues dogging us now - the provisional legislature, the laws it is to enact and the foreign reaction, plus the posting of armed Chinese soldiers here before the British exit - are transitory.

Not long from now, most of us will not even recall the details of the bustling days leading up to the transfer of sovereignty.

But we will never forget the raising of the SAR flag to signal the end of an era that has lasted 150 years.

Some day when we talk to our grandchildren about this epic change we will not dwell on who said and did what to whom in the prelude to the grand finale, but we will expound on the historic significance the event had for us, China, and the world.

Memory often heals and, being selective, can separate the important from the trivial.

Rather than point fingers and wag tongues, we should rejoice together as a family.

Even the demonstrations scheduled for the night of June 30 to 'mourn' the change of sovereignty should be seen as a celebration - of our freedoms and of the right to dissent in Hong Kong.

We must not focus on the niggling matters but on the major ones, such as how to maintain a prosperous, law-abiding, tolerant, cosmopolitan and dynamic society for ourselves and our descendants.

We should also keep in the forefront of our minds how to achieve this society in honour of our ancestors, to whom we would do well to dedicate the transition.

Only through success can we erase the humiliation suffered by our forebears, fulfil our obligations to posterity, and do justice to our potential which, under colonial rule, was never truly tested to the utmost.

We must include in our celebrations the expatriates among us, for they will stay to join us in building a better Hong Kong.

We, as the majority, must be magnanimous and ensure equal opportunities and dignity for all.

After the ceremony we still have 50 or more years to shape a Hong Kong to our liking.

There is no need to rush. Even those who think poorly of us have their value as we turn their negativity into a challenge and an inspiration.

As usual, we will turn adversity to advantage and make our mark on China's renaissance, speeding it along with the return of our homeland to the nation and utilising the global technological revolution.

These happy occurrences will lead to the further opening up of China - economically, politically and culturally - and help our great country integrate even more fully into the modern world community as a most influential member for the first time.

With such an important mission before us, we in Hong Kong should not feel sombre or squeamish but proud and privileged.