ONCE AN OUTSPOKEN politician, Desmond Lee Yu-tai had a change of heart in the early 1990s and ended up with the best of both worlds - living in Hong Kong and promoting investment in the South Pacific islands of Fiji. Sick of the sniping, Mr Lee dropped out of politics after meeting his political waterloo in 1988, and more or less fell into the job of honorary consul for Fiji in Hong Kong. Once a lecturer at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University and now a travel company owner, Mr Lee, 59, as consul, is responsible for marketing Fiji - a South Pacific nation of 332 white-sandy-beached, palm-fringed islands. It is a job he does more for love than money as The Informer found out when Mr Lee shared his Fijian experiences. Q: Why were you appointed Fiji's first honorary consul in Hong Kong? A: It's a long story. A friend of mine, who had investments in Fiji, invited me to visit at the end of the 1980s. During the trip, I was introduced to a trade and investment official who was eager to attract Hong Kong capital. He had organised two trade seminars in Hong Kong to attract investors, but they were failures, with fewer than 50 participants. Then I offered my help on a voluntary basis and organised a trade and investment seminar in July, 1989 - shortly after June 4 (the date of the Tiananmen Square crackdown). Probably because of the political uncertainty, more than 600 people showed up and more than 100 families expressed an interest in investing in Fiji. They thought I was powerful. In 1992, I was appointed the first honorary consul for the Fiji islands in Hong Kong. Q: So what are your responsibilities? A: To promote Fiji and attract Hong Kong investment. If you want to visit the islands of Fiji, you need to come to me to apply for the travel visa. Q: What advantages are there to being the honorary consul? Do you travel there for free? A: I have been there about 10 times. All expenses are basically my own, except for the trip in 1992 when I flew there to accept the appointment. They paid for the accommodation and for the beverages, and I paid for the air ticket. Q:Why did you accept? A: It's an honour. Q: Have you had any unforgettable experiences as a result of your post? A: In 2001, I accompanied the Fijian foreign minister Kaliopate Tavola to Beijing. Before the official meeting with China's counterpart, Tang Jiaxuan, I tipped off Mr Tavola that China would ask about Fiji's attitude towards the one-China policy. During the meeting, Mr Tang asked the question. After Mr Tavola gave an assurance that Fiji respected the policy, Mr Tang immediately said China would increase financial assistance to the South Pacific Games, due to be held in Fiji next month, from 20 million yuan (about HK$18.85 million) to 80 million yuan. Q: Are you still interested in local politics? A: No. I am not a political activist. I was a member of the United Democrats of Hong Kong but withdrew in 1991. I was criticised by members. There is no fun in it. Q: What do you think of Hong Kong's current political environment? A: There is a polarisation of society. Political parties come in two extremes - either total support for the government, or they are fully against it. That is not necessary. Q: How do you relax? A: I like writing couplets. I had a good memory and was fast-thinking when I was young. Therefore, I got many awards in competitions 20 years ago. Q: Do you think you have lost that advantage now? A: Well, I am getting old. But I still win prizes when I compete with intellectuals.