More than 2,000 years ago, the famous Chinese poet and patriot Qu Yuan said that 'in the crowd of the drunk, I am the only one who stays sober'. The expression summarised Qu's disappointment at the Chu State, but his honest opinions led to him being fired by the emperor. Putting Qu's expression in the modern context, perhaps members of the Preparatory Committee legal sub-group are sharing his sentiments in their endeavour to reinstate outdated human rights legislation, the only difference is that instead of being fired by the emperor, they appear to have been given tacit approval from Beijing. The legal sub-group insisted there were flaws in the human rights laws and therefore recommended key provisions in the Bill of Rights Ordinance should be repealed and the original versions of the Societies Ordinance and the Public Order Ordinance reinstated. Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa defended the legal sub-group's proposals and said there were people who tried to mislead the public. In a veiled criticism against Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who held reservations about changing the laws, Mr Tung even said that it was 'important that people in responsible positions should not mislead the business community or others'. But apart from saying others were wrong, Mr Tung and his Preparatory Committee colleagues offered little concrete evidence to support their case. If they are right, why do members of the legal community, the Bar Association and the Law Society, feel compelled to speak out strongly against the changes. Why do members of the community feel obliged to express their dissatisfaction? And why do some other members of the Preparatory Committee also feel the need to challenge the legal sub-group's recommendations? In justification for the changes, Mr Tung has said that even in London, a licence is required to hold demonstrations outside the Houses of Parliament. But his example was challenged by the legal profession and the British Foreign Office's spokesman who said there was no need for British people to seek official approval to demonstrate. They just needed to inform the police. Obviously, the silent majority in Hong Kong may not feel like openly expressing their views, especially on sensitive political issues such as the Bill of Rights and relevant laws. But that does not mean they are not privately judging the public performance of those who are in responsible positions - Mr Tsang and Mr Tung included. Hong Kong people can only be convinced by a legally sound argument for changing the laws. It is not enough for Mr Tung to just name a few articles in the Basic Law and say that the existing human rights laws clash with these provisions. He must illustrate how and why he thinks there are inconsistencies. In a territory such as Hong Kong when the rule of law is to be upheld to the utmost extent, before the legal sub-group's proposals are accepted, China has to come up with a convincing case. It is all very well for Mr Tung to say that 'it's important to get the right balance between individual rights and social order for the good of the entire community' but today, Hong Kong people have not yet felt that security and order are in jeopardy. Instead, the economy is still booming. No one has complained that their daily life has been disturbed by the existence of the human rights laws. Mr Tung is right to point out that a balance has to be struck. But perhaps as the territory's post-1997 leader, he should be reminded that it is also important to get the right balance between China's political priorities and Hong Kong's overall interests.