Prominent Chinese dissident Wei Jingsheng believes it is out of the question 'one country, two systems' will work in Hong Kong. He made his first comment on the SAR's future a week after his release from jail, and it prompted strong criticism from Hong Kong. Mr Wei has been in jail for nearly 18 years, he has never been to Hong Kong and he has hardly any first-hand experience of other parts of China which have undergone tremendous changes in the past 20 years. How would he know? From their personal experience, many Hong Kong people say 'one country, two systems' will work because they see it working - life is going on as usual here because there has been no purge of democratic activists, the media can still print and broadcast what it likes, the civil service remains intact and there have been no visible signs Beijing is meddling in Hong Kong's internal affairs. People are saying that four months after the handover, it seems that fears China will turn Hong Kong into just another Chinese city are dissipating and that is why Mr Wei's scepticism should be ill-received. They believe Mr Wei is oversimplifying the Hong Kong issue. Mr Wei's view is based only on his understanding of China's track record, and hence fails to take into account all the practical considerations Beijing has in granting Hong Kong many of the freedoms other parts of the mainland do not yet enjoy. But sceptical as Hong Kong people are of Mr Wei's assessment, they should know that it is also far too early for anyone to claim success for 'one country, two systems'. Realistically, it is still premature for anyone to give a fair judgment because the arrangement is still being tested on many fronts. Legally, will the rule of law be upheld as it was? Politically, will the system be operated with the same degree of accountability, integrity and transparency? Economically, will guanxi (connections) replace a level playing field as the key to doing business here? Until now, Hong Kong's system seems to have remained fairly intact from mainland influence. But signs of some disturbing changes reflecting Hong Kong's adoption of mainland practices and attitudes also appear to be emerging. Legally, the Government's offer of an out-of-court settlement on three test cases over the abode rights of Hong Kong permanent residents' mainland-born children is worrying. The Government's lifting of the children's removal orders in exchange for their withdrawal of the judicial review applications for their right to stay is seen as a kind of administrative expedience to avoid a potentially disastrous legal challenge, thus casting doubts on the Government's will to uphold the rule of law. Politically, Jiang Enzhu's insistence on standing for election as a Hong Kong deputy of the National People's Congress (NPC) is taken as a challenge to the upholding of the promise of 'one country, two systems'. The overt conflict between Mr Jiang's official position as a central government appointee to Hong Kong and his running for the local NPC election should not have been tolerated. But instead of pointing out the problem, some of our political and business leaders are rushing to endorse his bid. These are not trivial matters, because as soon as Hong Kong people slip into the habit and the mindset that occasional deviations from standard practices are tolerable, there is every chance these exceptions will gradually become the norm. Mr Wei may be sceptical about China's sincerity in making 'one country, two systems' work, but perhaps the more immediate danger lies with Hong Kong people: if locals become complacent about turning the promise into reality, it is more likely that what Mr Wei said may come true.