How one graduate gets top job in HK

AMERICAN Stacey Mosher came to Hongkong by accident rather than by design. It was not the hustle and bustle of Hongkong she was interested in at the time; her passion was the savannah of Africa and its big game.

But, 12 years later, she finds herself fielding questions from journalists at the office of one of the bright new stars of the Legislative Council, Christine Loh.

''Back then, my parents would not hear of my going to Africa,'' said Ms Mosher.

But they new the travel bug had bitten her so, rather than Africa, her parents started looking for somewhere else she could go.

They approached a Lutheran church organisation which recommended a teaching job at a mission in Hongkong. That, it seemed, was far enough away from Africa to keep her parents happy.

So, in 1981, Ms Mosher arrived in Hongkong to begin teaching English.

Before she can describe her early life in Hongkong the telephone rings. A journalist is seeking information from Ms Loh.

Ms Mosher herself went into journalism after arriving in Hongkong. Therefore, she tries to be helpful as helpful as possible to a professional colleague at the other end of the line. They talk and talk.

''Sorry about that,'' she says apologetically as she starts sorting out her table which is cluttered with Legislative Council papers, documents and other tools of her trade.

Before she can get started with the interview, the telephone rings again. She picks it up the receiver, listens and then breaks into fluent Cantonese.

Such interruptions continue every few minutes. But, by the end of the interview, Ms Mosher's 12 years in Hongkong has been put into perspective.

Her first attempts at mastering Cantonese began when the Lutheran school at which she was teaching sent her to the Chinese University.

Though she liked Hongkong, she did not like teaching.

She went to work for a publishing company, but found that job much too sedate for her restless spirit.

About three years after her arrival, she joined ATV as a television reporter. It was the time when the political situation was attracting more interest in Hongkong, with the Joint Declaration along with the inherent speculation that surrounded it on Hongkong's future.

''I didn't know a thing. I didn't even know what Legco was. But my colleagues patiently helped me out,'' said Ms Mosher, describing her early days in journalism.

Two years later, she moved again, this time to TVB and a public affairs programme.

During her time with television, she married a Chinese journalist whom she had first met when she had interviewed him. Two years after her marriage, she left TVB in search of a more leisurely life.

''I didn't feel the pressures of not having a regular job. I worked part time and that was all right,'' she said.

But it did not stay that way for long.

In early 1991, Ms Mosher discovered that Emily Lau, then a reporter for the Far Eastern Economic Review , was considering contesting the first Legislative Council direct elections.

Ms Lau's move into the political arena gave Ms Mosher the chance to step into Emily's shoes at the magazine.

Then, last October, Ms Mosher decided to join Christine Loh, who had just been appointed to the Legislative Council.

''I knew Christine from the days when we were with a pressure group called the 'Hongkong Observers','' recalled Ms Mosher.

''It was a kind of yuppie, intellectual/professional group which was trying to arouse public awareness and political consciousness in a community which, generally, seemed as wide awake as Rip Van Winkle,'' she said.

''The group wrote articles to the newspapers and took part in protests against various acts of the administration.

''Even though there were not political parties at the time, we did manage to get some things done.'' The acquaintance made through a pressure group turned into a working relationship when Ms Loh was looking for someone to help her with her own Legislative Council work.

After more than six months at work in the legislator's office, Ms Mosher has learned the nitty gritty of the legislative process and the political processes outside of the chamber.

She has also found a new and permanent home in Hongkong.