THE Wednesday-Thursday sitting of the Legislative Council this week is the last in the 1991-94 session. At the end of this month, Legco will be dissolved and the campaign season begins in earnest. On Wednesday a number of bills will be passed but none is more controversial than that of the Court of Final Appeal (CFA). As the day of reckoning approaches, pressure is mounting for legislators to endorse the bill unamended. Hong Kong people are told the bill is the product of Sino-British negotiations which cannot be reopened if the bill is amended or rejected. Thus Hong Kong would have a judicial vacuum in 1997. Some people have rightly pin-pointed the main defect of the CFA bill - the limit on the number of foreign judges. By fettering the CFA's power to invite judges from other common law jurisdictions to sit, the bill flies in the face of provisions in the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the 1990 Basic Law which permit the CFA to invite foreign judges if required. It was this violation of the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law which prompted Legco members to reject the CFA agreement on December 4, 1991. By a wide margin of 34 votes to 11, with four abstentions, Legco voted down the CFA deal amid applause in the public gallery. It was the first time, and probably the last time, that Legco had the courage to reject a Sino-British agreement. Today, 31/2 years later, the objectionable limit on foreign judges remains. The situation is made worse by the decision to set up the CFA only after the Chinese take-over. This has forced many people to eat their words. They include people such as Governor Chris Patten and Chief Justice Sir Ti Liang Yang, who have argued long and hard on the desirability of setting up the CFA as soon as possible. Supporters of the CFA bill admit it is not perfect, but insist it does not undermine the rule of law. Hence Hong Kong people must not look a gift-horse in the mouth. For people with a longer memory, that same argument was deployed in 1984 to get the Hong Kong people to accept the Joint Declaration. The CFA saga is symptomatic of political developments in Hong Kong in general, which are characterised by a rising feeling of impotence and fatalism and a rapid decline in expectations. People who originally held certain things to be important principles are now abandoning them for the sake of reaching agreement with the Chinese Government. In the process, the interests of the Hong Kong people are often compromised. The CFA is but one of a series of Chinese pronouncements which are in breach of the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. Contained in the CFA agreement is the reference to the setting up next year of the team-designate, which Hong Kong government officials readily accept and admit is the administration-in-waiting. There is no provision for the team-designate in the Joint Declaration or the Basic Law, but it is becoming apparent that what China wants, China will get, no matter how harmful it is to Hong Kong. MY feeling of exasperation is further heightened by the Hong Kong Government's readiness to accept the Chinese Government's decision to set up a provisional legislature next year to rival Legco. As for the team-designate, there is no provision for a provisional legislature in the Joint Declaration and the Basic Law and such proposals are tantamount to lawlessness. However, it does not seem to bother the powers that be. For people who pay constant lip service to upholding the rule of law, such behaviour smacks of hypocrisy, schizophrenia or both. The Chinese Government has vowed to dismantle Legco in 1997 and replace it with a nominated provisional body. Some people in the pro-democracy lobby oppose the provisional legislature but refuse to say whether they will serve on it, if invited by the Chinese Government. Therein lies the conundrum for people who wish to stay in politics in the coming years - do they stick to their principles and risk annihilation or do they act expediently by exploiting duplicitous double-speak? Equally important, will they be accepted by their voters?