Looking back over the past five years, Governor Chris Patten is content he will be handing back to China one of the great cities in the world - a Chinese city with British characteristics. In an interview with The New York Times this week, the 28th and last governor reviewed his reign with pride. 'There've been no ugly strikes. There have been no violent demos, there have been no big student demos, no riots, and crime has fallen. 'Growth has increased by over 30 per cent in real terms. Institutions like the civil service and the police have held together remarkably well. 'So in 1997, what do I think about Hong Kong? I think it's a great city in great shape, and I hope the Chinese leadership recognises that,' he said. But if few are going to dispute that, it is not so much because 'everything is fine' as the departing and future sovereigns have tried to tell the local and international community. Nor will Hong Kong be free of crises and hidden dangers after it reverts to Chinese sovereignty. To Britain and China, it is simply in their national interest to convince the 6.4 million people and other parts of the world that the Joint Declaration, signed 13 years ago, has provided the best guarantee for Hong Kong's future. The message is: Hong Kong has survived over the past 13 years of transition and will survive beyond the millennium. The rhetoric that 'Hong Kong will be better' is in sharp contrast with warnings made by some people in the community over the legacy of the Patten reign. Critics say he is to be blamed for the derailment of the through-train and the tense, if not hostile, relationship between the territory and Beijing. The dispute has poisoned relationships with Beijing, which branded him as a man of guilt for a thousand years. Ridiculed as a 'one-issue governor', the former British Conservative Party chairman has been lambasted for putting too much emphasis on democracy and human rights at the expense of livelihood issues. Conspiracy theorists have also warned that the Governor has brought about many changes which might rock the structure and systems of our society, including changes to legislation on human rights and divisions in the community. 'There are a lot of time bombs that are going to explode,' said a prominent businessman close to Chief Executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa. While those bombs may or may not be ignited, the legacy of Mr Patten's bid to widen democracy in the three-tier structure in 1994 and 95 will be officially declared a failure at the stroke of midnight on Monday. Twenty-six incumbent members of the Legislative Council elected in the 1995 election will lose their seats. Their remaining 33 colleagues plus 27 new members selected by a much-smaller franchise will be sworn in before the new sovereign sits on the legislature, to be officially called the Provisional Legislative Council. More than 100 community figures on an appointment list drawn up by Mr Tung will take their seats in the next few weeks when the new provisional urban and regional councils as well as the provisional district boards convene. A Western politician who talked to the Governor before he unveiled his reform blueprint in 1992 said: 'He wanted to maximise democracy through all the ambiguities in the Basic Law. 'But he failed. He lost the through-train.' The politician said: 'He [Mr Patten] is perhaps the best speaker, after Martin Luther King and John Kennedy. I admired him and I like him. His witty jokes, stories are always appealing to the West. 'But it's all Western values. He did not comprehend China. 'You can stand firm on principles when dealing with China, but only when justice is on your side. Legally, I think it's clear Britain has violated the agreements [on the elections]. 'There would be a much stronger government if [Lord] Wilson had been allowed to stay on. He would have got the through-train. There's no second stove.' The Governor has insisted he was wrong not because of his move to further democratise the political structure, but only for wasting too much time in negotiating with China for a deal. He was adamant that China's ultimate aim was to manipulate the elections and bar certain individuals from sitting on the legislature. His claims can no longer be proved following the collapse of talks at the end of their 17th round. Mr Patten is certain there was no alternative and the price to be paid for a 'fair and open' election was good for Hong Kong. Short-lived as his democratic construction is, the changes to the political culture and environment he brought about are more far-reaching. Over the past few years, the 1995 Legco has become a force that the executive authorities have to reckon with. They also have to be more open and accountable. Mr Patten's senior aides in the civil service have taken a quasi-ministerial role in defending government policies and establishing their statute in the community. The bureaucrats have been exposed to the public limelight and become more alert to public sensitivities and perceptions over their policies. Cases such as the inquiry into the sacking of former senior Independent Commission Against Corruption official Alex Tsui Ka-kit and the departure of immigration director Laurence Leung Ming-yin have shown that the executive branch can no longer simply make decisions behind closed doors without considering public opinion. Specifically, legislators can have a real influence on how the territory should be governed through means such as private member's bills. Whether a more influential Legco is good for Hong Kong, however, will be subject to much debate because the truth is that there is a price for democracy that not everyone in the community is prepared to pay. The spate of labour rights laws passed by the Legco this week is a case in point. But that is just one of the major problems the Governor has faced in the past five years. As civic consciousness and awareness grew, so did the pressure for a fair share of the territory's economic success and a decent living environment. Failure to handle such matters would have made the last phase of the British rule unworkable. Keeping an effective governance aside, the last governor had an equally, if not more, important mission. Mr Patten had to ensure an honourable retreat of the British sovereign from the territory. The fact that there have been no humiliations for Britain, no challenge to the legitimacy of British rule, no fierce anti-British feelings, no counting of old scores against the colonial administration can be attributed to many reasons. It is never easy to change sovereignty anywhere in the world and Mr Patten has achieved mixed success against a backdrop of political changes that appeared increasingly unfavourable to him as the transition drew nearer. The Governor and his administration have been able to secure considerable support from the community. The level of satisfaction with his performance and that of the civil service has stayed high. The former Tory party chairman, who was dumped by his constituents in Bath, has been largely seen as an 'approachable' governor who hugged babies, tasted an egg tart and drank Chinese herbal tea on his tours of the city. In an earlier interview, Mr Patten claimed he had not brought a new political culture with him, but simply responded to the needs of the society and spoke up for it. Outlining his five-year agenda in 1992, he laid down his goal of 'one country, two systems'. 'It means a prosperous China, made more prosperous still by the contribution of a vigorous, tolerant and open Hong Kong,' he said. Like the question of whether Hong Kong has become better or worse-off in the past five years, the verdicts on the last governor are bound to be conflicting. But like the British rule of the past 150 years, Mr Patten's legacy will not simply disappear at the stroke of midnight on June 30.