TONIGHT I will travel to Geneva with fellow Legco member Christine Loh to attend the United Nations' Human Rights Committee hearing on Hong Kong to be held on Thursday and Friday. The committee will scrutinise the British Government's Fourth Periodic Report on Hong Kong on the implementation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights (ICCPR). Joining us in Geneva are four other Legco members from the Democratic Party, Liberal Party, Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong (DAB) and the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood (ADPL). We are part of an all-party Legco delegation to tell the UN Human Rights Committee that Hong Kong people would like to see the system of reporting the colony's human rights record to the UN continue after the transfer of sovereignty in 1997. In a rare show of unity on the sensitive subject of human rights, the newly-elected Legco decided on Friday at the house committee meeting to endorse a proposal by the Democratic Party to send a delegation to attend what may be the last hearing on Hong Kong. The house committee also voted $100,000 for the trip. The Chinese Government is not a party to the ICCPR and has said it would not report to the UN on Hong Kong's behalf. However, the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law said the ICCPR would continue to apply in Hong Kong after 1997. The Legco house committee's reaction on Friday was dramatically different from what happened exactly a year ago, when it voted 16 to 16 after an acrimonious debate on a similar proposal to send a delegation to Geneva to attend the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights hearing. The then house committee chairman Elsie Tu gave her casting vote against the proposal. Members objected on the grounds that the delegation could not represent their views. In the end, the Constitutional Affairs Panel decided to send James To and I to present the panel's views. Disgruntled members wrote to the UN to say our delegation did not represent them. The late former British prime minister Harold Wilson said a week is a long time in politics. Nevertheless I was pleasantly surprised by the house committee's apparent change of heart. It is true that an election took place on September 17 and more people from the pro-democracy lobby have entered Legco. If that is what it takes to make Legco unite to defend Hong Kong people's rights, then the September election is indeed price-less. Given that there was hardly any time for serious discussion, I proposed to the house committee that the delegation should take one simple message to the UN - we want the UN to continue to receive reports and hold hearings on Hong Kong after 1997. Ronald Arculli said that what we wanted was to send that message to Beijing. I responded by saying I would support a similar trip to the Chinese capital any time. IT would be a boost to local confidence if an all-party Legco delegation on human rights could be received in Beijing. After all, it is no secret that Hong Kong people want the Chinese leaders to talk to Legco members. The new composition of Legco has prompted a lot of speculation on how voting alliances would be formed. The often touted formula is 27 democrats versus 28 pro-Beijing, pro-business conservatives, with the four ADPL members holding the balance. In spite of the unexpected support for the Geneva trip, I do not have many illusions. Nevertheless, like many people, I am deeply aware that time is rapidly running out for Hong Kong and if we don't hang together, we'll hang separately. Immediately after the September 17 election, although several DAB guns were defeated, it was reassuring to hear its chairman, Tsang Yok-sing, say he thought the election was open and fair. DAB members also said they were in favour of the political through-train for Legco. While the UN scrutinises Hong Kong's chequered human rights record, long may the new found Legco unity and amicability last.