Straight answers to tough questions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 July, 2006, 12:00am

Former Hong Kong Governor Chris Patten was in town this week for the second time in nine months. He was here to promote his latest book, Not Quite the Diplomat.

During his visit to British Council headquarters on Monday morning, he received a warm welcome from a group of 40 upper primary to lower secondary students of the council's English Teaching Centre.

The younger children read the first page of Allan Ahlberg's The Jolly Postman to Lord Patten and his wife Lavender, while eight-year-old Henriette Lam played the postman and delivered letters with questions for Lord Patten.

Lord Patten easily amused the children with his humorous answers.

One of them asked: 'Can you give me #100 million?' and he answered: 'Will you accept a cheque?'

The cheerful children also wanted to know how many daughters Lord Patten has, his age, if he would visit Hong Kong Disneyland, and the reason he was nicknamed 'Fat Pang'.

He was asked twice why he likes egg tarts so much.

Apparently the students were not aware of what Lord Patten said last Friday: that he was not going to have egg tarts this time in Hong Kong because he was 'too fat'.

Hong Kong's last governor shared facts about his teenage life with his young audience - he played soccer, cricket, rugby, tennis and fencing in school, while his favourite bands are the Beatles and Rolling Stones.

Three colourful and creative posters on the lives of local teenagers were presented to Lord Patten and will be exhibited at the British Council from September 12 to 23.

Lord Patten later shared his views with Hong Kong-based British business people and UK alumni in an hour's talk on 'Cultural Understanding - The Essence of International Communication'.

He said during the question- and-answer session that adults should encourage young people to read constantly.

'It's not a challenge to get young people to read,' he said. 'The real challenge is to keep them reading.'

He said the reward from reading was enormous.

He also said he was amazed to see that so many book stores have opened throughout the territory since he left in 1997.