ON THIS LAST DAY of the year, it's time to look back over the past 12 months and wonder: what has the world become? Young Post has selected the following as the top 10 news items of the year - though it is difficult to rank one issue above another as they all got everyone talking. 1. Year 2002 began with the news that President Jiang Zemin's private plane was bugged while it was refitted in the United States. China downplayed the issue to avoid a diplomatic storm. At the 16th Party Congress in November, Jiang stepped down to make way for Hu Jintao, Deng Xaoping's hand-picked heir. Jiang retains control over the Central Military Commission. His allies still surround Hu. So who is the real boss? We'll find out. 2. On February 17, speed skater Yang Yang won a gold medal in the 500m short track at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. It was China's first gold since competing in the Olympics in 1992. 3. March 31 was the official deadline for all abode seekers to return to the mainland. It marked the end of their five-year struggle. About 4,300 defied the official deadline and remained in the territory. April 8 saw the first forcible removal, prompting more to leave voluntarily. 4. After Tung Chee-hwa secured a second term as the Chief Executive in February, he pushed through a new ministerial system in April, provoking heated debate. A new cabinet was revealed in June. Mr Tung hailed it as a new era of accountability for Hong Kong. But whether this system will be truly accountable has yet to be proven. 5. Okay, China failed to score a goal and were kicked out after the first round in the World Cup in June. But wasn't it exciting to be able to scream for our own country, not England or Brazil? And let's not feel too bad. China's performance this year was comparable to France, the 1998 World Cup champion. 6. On October 7, windsurfing queen Lee Lai-shan (or San San) won another gold medal at the Asian Games in Pusan, South Korea. But abdominal pain forced the 32-year-old to withdraw from the Siam Cup in Thailand and the World Championship in Pattaya this month, casting doubts over her career. 7. Also in October, the Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung said he would act as a matchmaker to speed up the merger between the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to create a world-class university. Protests from students and staff of the two institutions put the plan on hold. A similar merger plan between the Hong Kong Education Institution and the CUHK was recommended in the Higher Education Review in April. This was also greeted with scepticism. 8. After waves of demonstrations and cross-fire between security chief Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee and various groups, public consultation on Article 23 and proposed security laws ended on Christmas Eve. At the heart of the controversy is the fear that civil liberties including freedom of speech and information will be eroded by the vaguely worded legislation. The government maintains that a white bill - a draft bill that would be amended after public discussion - is not necessary. 9. Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung, hounded by the tabloid media, declared his love for Chinese diving star Fu Mingxia. The couple's sudden wedding in July was a hot topic of discussion. 10. Canto-pop star Nicholas Tse made the front page for a week after he crashed his $2 million Ferrari. But the story did not end there. The Independent Commission Against Corruption sent Tse off to court for telling police that an employee had been driving the car at the time. Tse was eventually convicted of conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and sentenced to 240 hours' social service.