The room was virtually empty and the silence deafening, but perhaps it was the most eloquent expression of Hong Kong's hesitation with asking open questions about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Legislators clearly did not want to say much. In 1995, almost two years ago, when I asked in the Legislative Council, whether the CCP would operate openly in Hong Kong after 1997, many legislators went berserk. There was much hysterics and not much was said about the issue I was trying to air. Last week, I asked how the CCP will be represented here, what its role will be in Hong Kong, what liaison channels there will be with our government and chief executive, and whether there will be any limits to the liaison since a different system is supposed to operate here. There was no more cursing against me, nor did anyone go into a frenzy. That was progress. However, some of the members who spoke against the motion still carried the notion that I raised the issue in order to 'confuse'. In some quarters, it is perceived that one's assumed motives for raising matters relating to Hong Kong-China relations depends on who you are. In other words, it is not what you say, but who you are that determines whether you can say certain things or not. If someone like me, a person with known liberal persuasion, asks about the CCP, it is perceived by some as a deliberate attempt to irk China, or 'scare' the public. Perhaps if a Hong Kong appointee to the National People's Congress were to ask the same questions, or a member of the Preparatory Committee were to do the same, the same people who accused me of disruption may well clap. If there is confusion about the future role of the CCP, the answer is to shine light on the issue, not to tell people who ask questions to shut up. It also does not help to further obfuscate the issue. Ip Kwok-him from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong said, 'there is no question of a special status for the Chinese Communist Party, so to ask the Chinese Government to clarify this is unnecessary'. It would be helpful to have an answer on the nature of that status. Mr Ip cannot answer on behalf of the CCP or the Chinese Government, much as he might like to. One news editor said privately that Hong Kong is simply not yet ready to tackle the question of the CCP. Perhaps I jumped the gun twice, but it is an issue that requires discussion and will eventually have to be aired. The chair of the Liberal Party, Allen Lee Peng-fei, rightly said no one should be surprised that the chief executive-designate has communication channels with the CCP apparatus. Yes, that is exactly my point. He must have. I am just seeking information. The very incurious Mr Lee thought there should be no need for me to do so because I should trust the Chinese Government and the CCP that they are serious about the 'one country, two systems' principle, and that there would be no interference in local day-to-day affairs. For good measure, he also said we should trust the chief executive-designate in that he would stand up for Hong Kong's promised autonomy. Asking for information is not necessary a sign of distrust. In an open, modern, society, we ask all kinds of questions all the time of those in authority. It is not always that we believe something is wrong, but we just want to know everything is right. We lose our curiosity and vigilance at our own peril.