Former Governor urges end to row

FORMER Governor Lord MacLehose said it would be better to end the current Sino-British row over Mr Chris Patten's political reform as soon as possible.

In an interview with the Straits Times, Lord MacLehose said: ''The sooner this business of the elections for 1995 can be got out of the way the better.

''What really matters in Hongkong is the economy.'' It was risky for Mr Patten to play games with China, he said.

''The two governments are partners in one of the most tricky and unique political operations. Close partnership is absolutely essential if it's going to come off,'' he said.

Lord MacLehose also believed that the emergence of the United Democrats of Hongkong, which was seen as an anti-Beijing party in Hongkong, had added to Chinese suspicions of the electoral procedures and British policy.

Lord MacLehose believed criticism was directed at Mr Patten personally, not at the British Government.


''It could be that they wish to differentiate between what could be passed over as a personal mistake and a change in British government policy which would be much more difficult to deal with,'' he said.

Judging from his past experience as Governor in Hongkong, Lord MacLehose said there were three facts of life which had applied to Hongkong's survival since 1959.

''First, it must not seek independence; second, it had to be of economic benefit to China, sufficient to offset any political disadvantage; third, Hongkong must avoid being a threat or embarrassment to China.

''The power of China in relation to Hongkong is so great that there is no happy future for Hongkong that ignores these principles,'' he said.