The number of words spoke for itself. Of the 174 paragraphs in the Policy Address, 55 came under the heading of 'Making Hong Kong an Ideal Home'. Mr Tung's thoughts on cultivating talent took up another 35 paragraphs. Forget about the 32 paragraphs reviewing the SAR. The references were merely intended to make people believe issues such as rule of law and piracy had not been forgotten. The priority was clear. If Hong Kong was to become a world-class city in the next millennium, there was little time left to cultivate the best talent and create the best living environment. With a $36.5 billion deficit forecast for this year, the Government was simply too cash-strapped to give more stimulants to the economy. Perhaps more importantly, more interventionist measures would increase doubts about the cardinal principle of positive non-intervention. The Government made clear it now intends to take a back-seat to the private sector in rebuilding the economic powerhouse. It reaffirmed its role in building allowing the development of 'software' such as talent and 'hardware' such as a good environment. On the surface, there should be no doubts about the long-overdue initiatives on the environment and education. But to nurture feeling of home among the 6.8 million people, more is needed than massive spending and tougher laws to bring fresh air, clean water and rubbish-free streets. What is missing is development of a society that is liberal and open, caring and egalitarian, harmonious and tolerant. This is vital if a consensus on practical issues relating to the green revolution is to be developed. One of these areas, raised by Mr Tung in his address, is who should pay. A revamp of the education system, likewise, will be piecemeal if the SAR does not have the right soil to nurture creativity. It goes back to the question of whether Hong Kong is still a free, pluralistic and democratic society. Unfortunately, the signs have not been promising.