Finally, Hong Kong legislators spoke with one voice yesterday in an effort to enhance integration with the Pearl River Delta. It just wasn't in the language most people are accustomed to hearing from them. Still, the Putonghua-speaking contest held outside the Legco building in Central yesterday was considered a success. Coming at a time of widespread concern about poor standards of Putonghua in Hong Kong impeding integration with the mainland, it received cross-party support. Led by Legco president Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai, entrants included members from the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong and the Democratic Party. The legislators were asked to translate phrases from Cantonese to Putonghua, and read and speak at three levels: warm-up, beginner and expert. They were then graded by Ho Wai-kit, director of the Centre for Research and Development of Putonghua Education at the Chinese University. Though no one actually failed the test, there were clear leaders and laggards. Mrs Fan and Choy So-yuk, of the DAB, seemed to have no trouble. This is hardly surprising, though: Mrs Fan is from Shanghai and is a local deputy to the National People's Congress and Ms Choy is from Fujian. But Democrat Sin Chung-kai and Frederick Fung Kin-kee, chairman of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood, seemed to experience some difficulty. Ironically, they are among the few people in the pro-democracy camp who are allowed by the central government to visit the mainland. Both Ms Choy and colleague Yeung Yiu-chung said that improving proficiency in Putonghua would help to speed up Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa's plan to integrate with the mainland. 'Speaking Putonghua well should help improve communication between Hong Kong and mainland people. Both will become more friendly when they speak the same language,' Ms Choy said. Professor Ho said proficiency standards in Hong Kong were improving and were actually high compared to other regions on the mainland where dialects were commonplace.