One really has to wonder whether all this travel abroad by members of our Government is such a good idea. Why is this administration obsessed with turning Hong Kong into somewhere else? It seems anyone who goes overseas comes back to Hong Kong feeling obliged to offer their thoughts on how to transform the city into the Manhattan/London/Las Vegas/Milan of Asia. No returning speech is complete without invoking some signature landmark from some other thriving metropolis that, according to its eminent observer, should be emulated right here in the Fragrant Harbour. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa got the ball rolling last year when he meandered around Silicon Valley, declaring on his return that Hong Kong absolutely had to have one itself, or at least a property development with a groovy, hi-tech sounding name. Hong Kong, it was said, would become the Silicon Valley of Asia. With a click of the fingers and before you could say competitive tender process, Cyber-Port was conceived. That was followed by the Disney campaign, which still remains undecided. But it looks increasingly likely that M. Mouse & Co will be applying for permanent ID cards and taking up spacious apartments in Discovery Bay very soon. It's close to the office, you know. Then just last month, Financial Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen jetted off to Las Vegas, having decided that Hong Kong could do with a casino to lure the masses here to part with their hard-earned. The latest devotee of this dubious fashion is everyone's favourite unelected representative, Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang. Speaking at the Foreign Correspondents Club on Wednesday, the recently dubbed 'Iron Butterfly' said if Hong Kong was to be the pre-eminent Asian city, a number of things had to improve. She mentioned the obvious ones, such as the environment, the standard of English, etc. The environment, of course, remains a tough one for the administration, which means for now, Hong Kong lays claim to being the Mexico City of Asia. Splutter splutter. But it was when Mrs Chan got into detail about enhancing the city's cultural diversity that the alarm bells started ringing. 'We need our own West End and Broadway if we are to tap our potential as the cultural capital of Asia,' la Chan urged. What next? The Left Bank of Asia? The Grand Canyon of Asia? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon of Asia? God help us if anyone from the Government makes a visit to Central America. They'll want to build the Panama Canal of Asia here. On second thoughts that's not likely. According to that cerebral giant of US Republican politics, Senator Trent Lott, it's already run by the PLA - and anyway, Victoria Harbour is pretty much a canal now. Of course, it could - and is - be argued that Hong Kong is indeed the Manhattan of Asia. Hey, we even have Times Square, tall buildings and traffic jams; although we cannot overlook that fact we don't have even one world-class art museum, or a Greenwich Village and our cab drivers are not opinionated and chatty, just rude. But, chief secretary, let's suppose just for a moment that the idea of 'creating' a Broadway or Park Lane here will not just be laughed at and that someone actually follows it up. How is this done? There seems to be an idea in circles on high that things other cities around the world have developed over generations, or at least years, can somehow be instantly created in Hong Kong. Just get a few property developers and financiers together and bingo! A brand-new crowd-puller for the SAR. One must admire the efforts made by our political overlords to diversify the economy and come up with ways of luring more people - and, more importantly, more dollars - to Hong Kong. But Lai See senses some disturbing aspects to this craze for turning Hong Kong into the - add important city somewhere else - of Asia. Quite apart from the simplicity of the arguments used to justify such proposals, there is the question of identity. In the clamour to pull the city out of its economic lull, it seems to have been forgotten that Hong Kong is still one of the world's great cities. No-one likes complacency, but let's be doing things here that others want to imitate, not the other way round.