EVERYONE in Hong Kong is aware that the transfer of sovereignty on July 1, 1997, is just around the corner, but until now even those supposedly in the know do not have a clear picture about what exactly needs to be done in preparation for the red-letter day. So far, the Hong Kong authorities do not have a clue to what kind of handover ceremonies and celebrations Beijing has in mind. Even though the foreign ministers of China and Britain have already agreed that a working group should be set up for co-operation in this regard, the establishment of the proposed panel remains no more than a notion on the drawing board. The Hong Kong Government's Information Services Department, for instance, has long made provision for the creation of a special duties task force to handle the matter. However, the Chinese side have yet to divulge their intentions. The Urban and Regional Councils have reserved all their major venues, such as the Hong Kong Stadium and the Coliseum, for mass gatherings around the handover date. Yet, it is still anybody's guess whether and how the facilities will be utilised. The local officials are apparently getting more impatient than counterparts on the mainland about what has to be arranged in advance for the change of flags. Two days of public holidays aside, fireworks and cultural performances by the very best from China are two of the most talked-about activities to mark the historic moment. Nevertheless, a master plan on who will be doing what and where and when has yet to be hammered out. A 36-member sub-group, co-headed by Wu Jianfan, Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai and Raymond Wu Wai-yung, has been appointed under the Chinese Preparatory Committee for the Special Administrative Region to co-ordinate such commemorative events. The panel has yet to call its first working session. In contrast, cadres from various parts of the mainland apparently have a much clearer vision about what they want to achieve in connection with the return of Hong Kong. Shanghai, in particular, emerges as the most enthusiastic. A businessman from Hong Kong who has substantial connections in Shanghai said he had recently been approached by officials there about an investment opportunity. He was asked to put his money into catering services for a huge stadium being constructed. A massive video wall, he was told, would be installed in the facility. The cadres are adamant that the stadium will be completed ahead of the 1997 transfer, as the new venue is meant to be filled to capacity so that a maximum number of Shanghainese can be assembled to witness the simulcast of the handover ceremony. Also in Shanghai, a team of television workers has been assigned to produce a 52-part programme on various aspects of the British colony. The first of the series is scheduled to be launched in June, so that there will be a weekly focus on the enclave during the last 12 months of countdown to July 1997. SCEPTICS may be inclined to think that Shanghai's keen interest in Hong Kong has stemmed from a sense of rivalry rather than brotherhood. Many travellers have shared their observations on how ambitious Shanghai has been to replace Hong Kong as the financial hub of China in the next century. The 1997 celebrations in Beijing, on the other hand, seem to be more symbolic and spiritual. One of the most eye-catching events proposed is a pigeon-racing contest from Hong Kong to the Chinese capital. The race will epitomise Hong Kong's peaceful and smooth reunification with the motherland. Meanwhile, some Hong Kong business figures have also been asked by individual mainland concerns to contribute to an effort to print a special publication on this glorious episode in contemporary Chinese history. The proposed publication is meant to be distributed across the country. One particular development has raised some eyebrows among Hong Kong authorities. The broadcasting arm of the Government, RTHK, has suggested its services should be expanded to cover a Putonghua radio channel. Even though the proposal is not directly related to the transfer of powers, the 1997 connotations are conspicuous. In spite of the concept of 'one country, two systems', it will be ridiculous if the future Hong Kong SAR does not have even one station which operates in the national Chinese language. RTHK's plan is to ask for an additional radio frequency band-width for its Putonghua broadcast in addition to its seven existing channels. The idea, however, did not originate from the central Hong Kong Government. Instead, it is more of an initiative by the RTHK leadership in response to the changing social environment. It will, therefore, be interesting to see how the Government is to react to the proposed scheme. The Recreation and Cultural Branch, which oversees policy matters relating to RTHK, has not been given a comfortable budget to work with. The station's request last year for an additional $60 million to operate a cable television channel under the umbrella of Wharf Cable has been rejected primarily on financial grounds. Constraints in resources have also been cited as the main reason behind aborting the drafting of a so-called Omnibus Broadcasting Bill to reform the regulatory framework for the electronic media in Hong Kong. The branch is also said to have difficulty accommodating requests for additional monetary support for the sports and arts sectors. Nonetheless, few in Hong Kong and China, would argue in public against the vision of providing a radio service in the national language after 1997 in principle. The proposition, after all, is politically impossible to reject.