On June 5, American Chamber of Commerce chairman James Thompson went to see InvestHK chief Mike Rowse. The amiable American had an idea to help lift Hong Kong from the crippling despair of Sars-induced economic catastrophe. How about a waterfront music festival featuring some of the world's greatest stars? What prompted an American businessman to approach the civil service with the notion that they hold a novel music concert? Nobody seems to have asked. Amid the hysteria, cowardly carping, blame-seeking, finger-pointing, ducking for cover and political guerilla warfare that surrounded Harbour Fest, shouldn't we consider how the event came about? This is what happened. In mid-May, as Hong Kong reeled in fear and panic, the government set up the top-level Economic Relaunch Strategy Group (ERSG) of senior administration officials and leading business and community leaders. The situation - you may have forgotten - was truly desperate. The government appealed to group members for ideas on how to revitalise our economy and society, possibly making use of the $1 billion already earmarked to finance such moves. Mr Thompson, long-term Hong Kong booster, immediately circulated all members of AmCham. What can we do to help Hong Kong? Members of his sports and entertainment sub-committee suggested an entertainment festival. Mr Thompson approached Mr Rowse, who was controlling officer of the $1 billion budget. By June 26, a concrete proposal was presented officially. Everyone loved the idea. By July 2 top government officials had approved the concert in principle and on July 12 it got the formal go-ahead with the promise to underwrite the project up to $100 million. Last Sunday night, as I rocked in front of Mick Jagger and the boys, I wondered what others had done to help Hong Kong. How about Emily Lau Wai-hing, for instance, the harshest and most strident critic of the organisation of the Harbour Fest. What positive action was she taking last June 5 to help pull us out of the financial mire? Sorry, I can't tell you. Despite several attempts to contact the Legco member who is eternally critical of virtually everything, she never answered my simple question: What did you do to help in our Sars recovery, Emily? And what did others do? The list of ERSG members is studded with academics, institutions, associations, federations, chambers and councils. Did any of them come up with ideas? Philip Wong Yu-hong, vice-chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce (and Legco member who flips the finger at the public) sits on the ERSG. What did his chamber do? Sorry, can't tell you. He won't answer. Mr Thompson acted with flair, imagination and courage. What have he and his AmCham team reaped for their enthusiasm and efforts to help Hong Kong? Well, in my view, they've become targets of the most vicious and concentrated campaign of distortions and calumny I've ever witnessed. Talk about snakes in the grass; gossipy serpents emerged sniping and spitting, griping and carping. Almost from inception, Harbour Fest was targeted by a nasty combination of politicians, reporters, know-it-alls, social workers and every other form of self-publicist on the planet. I loved in particular all the highly indignant show promoters who were obviously horrified they weren't making money out of staging the events. If these fellows are all so hot at their jobs, how come I never went to a Rolling Stones concert that they arranged? Okay, many aspects of Harbour Fest were mishandled. It was marred by maladministration, ghastly public relations errors, confusion and bad judgment. But it happened! Putting together a deal of this complexity in only three months is a miracle. And I am confident totally that the audit report and government inquiry will show that none of the $100 million ended up in private pockets. Staging Harbour Fest is the sort of thing you do once in a lifetime; you learn as you go. There are no guidelines to follow. Having done it once, Mr Thompson and his team have learned - bitterly - of the pitfalls. I hope they do it again. But I doubt it. These good men with the welfare of Hong Kong in their hearts have been abused, accused, jeered, pilloried, libelled and lied about. Their crime? They cared. I say thank you Mr Thompson and AmCham. Thank you for trying. Thank you for feeling about our Hong Kong. Stage Harbour Fest next year and you can count me in on your volunteer team -and a lot of others.