Forget about the row over civil rights proposals and the provisional legislature, the territory has been fascinated the past week by the real-life dramas surrounding Cantonese opera star Tang Wing-cheung and little Chung Yeuk-lam. The extensive coverage by most Chinese-language print media and television stations of the dispute among the Tang family over everything from the funeral arrangements to the family fortune would have shocked many from outside the territory. With less than 70 days before the territory is handed over to China, the international media expects sensation on other fronts, not a Hong Kong version of Dallas, nor heavy coverage of the fate of an eight-year-old illegal immigrant from the mainland. On the assignment list of the fleet of foreign journalists here there will have been the clash between the outgoing and incoming governors and the two legislatures, fears of curbs over civil liberties and the press, as well as the sentiments of 6.4 million people over the imminent changeover of power. Many may understandably feel confused over what is really on the minds of the people of Hong Kong. But if my foreign colleagues feel perplexed by the state of mind of the community, that is precisely the way many in the territory feel over the many twists and turns in the transition. Even though the 13-year countdown to Chinese rule is about to come to the end, political bickering and controversies are no less intense now than at any time since the fate of the territory was sealed in the 1984 Joint Declaration. Feelings of helplessness and frustration aside, people feel increasingly confused about what is really happening, what is going awry as well as who is right and who is wrong. Different stories have been told and different statements made on such disputes as the proposed amendments to laws on societies and rallies and who the laws on right of abode should apply to. The bulk of the community can be excused for being confused by the lack of an agreement on right of abode although the British and Chinese governments have seen eye to eye on 95 per cent of its contents. No one seems to know the answer to conflicting claims made in the past few months on whether the provisional legislature has a legal basis or not, and whether laws passed by the body will face a challenge in the courts. Nor has anybody said clearly and precisely how the Societies Ordinance and the Public Order Ordinance have contravened the Basic Law - and what the fuss is all about. Moreover, there are legitimate questions on how the introduction of a simple notification process with the police for organising public processions in the past few years has done any harm to society. Talking and thinking about politics, many in the territory will probably feel a sense of frustration, confusion and helplessness over the uncertainties that lie in the months and years ahead. They find it easier to form a view on whether the widow of late opera king Tang, better known as Sun Ma Chai, should be allowed to attend his funeral, or if the Government should allow Yeuk-lam to stay. It has become more difficult to tell political fact from fiction, truth from lies. Nor are people able to ascertain whom they can trust. The community's avid taste for the drama of the Tang family dispute should provide much food for thought for governments, politicians, media and the community at large on what kind of society Hong Kong should become. A society that seems to be more interested in accusations between family members than matters relating to their rights and freedoms is hardly a healthy one for the future generations to grow up in. Hong Kong may not need to become a 'political city', but the people here should live in an environment under which they feel relaxed and ready to think and talk about how the territory should be governed. There will only be indifference and apathy if people are made to believe that what they say does not matter.