ON Wednesday the Governor Mr Chris Patten will face the 59 official and unofficial legislators for his second annual policy address. No doubt he will be thinking what a difference, and a dismal one, a year has made. Twelve months ago, the erudite, newly-appointed 29th governor of Hong Kong was enjoying an extended political honeymoon. The polls reported 70 per cent plus approval ratings and the general enthusiasm for his first policy address gave extra eclat to hisluminous reputation. The speech had been expected to be good, but not as politically ingenious. He handed out more money than anyone expected to most portfolios, and then he dumbfounded listeners with his solution to enfranchising the territory. He would expand the membership of the functional constituencies, and lower the voting age to 18, he said, if Legco approved the ideas. The proposals would make Legco more accountable and it would give everyone a say in their futures, he said. Initial local reaction was euphoric, until the deafening silence from the north, was perceived. Within weeks, the wrath of Beijing had reached fever-pitch, and the politically immature constituency of Hong Kong began to waver. Since then, the progress of the package has become a test of political wills that has engaged the British Government in an unexpectedly extended diplomatic battle with China, divided the Hong Kong business community and, according to opinion polls, boredthe local electorate to death. Therefore, Wednesday promises to be a rather awkward day for Mr Patten. Voters, seeking a peaceful life post-1997, seem very uninterested in his proposals, and increasingly the governor himself. The results of a survey conducted this week showed that more than 60 per cent of respondents did not even know what the package offered. But from Government House, the message is that a spirited battle is continuing. Spokesmen for Mr Patten always say that the governor is popular and that it is up to Legco to decide if they approve the ''proposals''. ''The governor has said all along'' the official line goes, ''that it is up to the people of Hong Kong to decide what they want from the democracy package.'' But that does not gel too nicely with the larger, international scenario. The last round of Sino-British talks produced the usual result - nothing - on the democracy issue. The Joint Liaison Group meeting, the first formal discussions since Mr Hurd met Mr Qian in the summer, have been admitted as a failure. The only person happy with the outcome was the British JLG representative Anthony Galsworthy, and that was because theywere to be his last. He left the job a week ago, and will be off to the Foreign Office in London for three years. So the problems persist. The electorate does not support the package, although almost half of the members of Legco endorse elements of it. The Chinese know it and they are rubbing it in to the British. As a result, the high-level discussions between Mr Hurd and the Mr Qian this weekend, were dismissed as being ongoing before they began. It was widely leaked to the media that they should not expect any major breakthrough from the New York meeting. Any developments would be discussed at the next round of Sino-British talks on October 11-12, selected reporters were told. In the meantime, Mr Patten has this week's pressing engagement of a Legco to address. A task that requires him to look like he is moving forward while actually standing still, and to put this obfuscation process into delicate written form. An inkling of his likely strategy emerged this week, with the suggestion that he might give an account of the progress of the Sino-British democracy talks to Legco. This is a clever tactic, which the Chinese would be expected to consider anything from a colonial ruse to outright betrayal of the confidentiality of the discussions. In other places it might be called stalling for time. Or, if the details of the talks are substantially unflattering about the Chinese, calling the mainland's bluff. It is also convenient. The Legco address sets out the Government's agenda for the year. There is no debate and no questions from the floor which gives the governor lots of room to manoeuvre. He can highlight points of the discussions, give a fuller account, or simply say that he intends to table a summary on democracy negotiations. Any of these options increases the pressure on China to break the deadlock on the talks, while also allowing the Government to seize back some of the negotiating initiative lost to the Chinese during the last six months. Equally, with China threatened with exposure, it will give the parties more time to try to reach an agreement as any detailed presentation of the talks to Legco would have to take place after the October 11-12 discussions. Another advantage for the governor is that these tactics have had a rehearsal. Almost seven months ago, Mr Patten thought he had reached agreement with Beijing to re-open talks on the democracy issue. On March 11, both sides were close to an announcement when the Chinese suddenly reneged on the terms of the agreement. Twenty four hours after the agreement collapsed, the governor made good his threat and announced to a hushed Legco that he would gazette the democracy bills on March 12, and he did. It could be argued that his tactics produced the necessary goods but it is obvious that they have not produced results. Talks did begin but no progress has been made and this is the risk that Mr Patten must now be calculating as the final draft of his speech is being completed. To this end, he has spent the last two weeks meeting with legislators to canvas their views on the possible resolutions to the impasse. The conservative independent Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen and his pro-democracy alternative Christine Loh Kung-wai emerged from their meeting, and said the governor listened rather than talked. He gave no indication of what he intended to do on Wednesday, they said. But such a strategy has risks and the biggest one is that the bluff and bully option could backfire and, if it did, the package would disappear in the morass of a divided Legco, and China would be more assured than ever that it can control Hong Kong. They would be able to insist that the voting age remains at 21, thereby eliminating a potentially large body of supporters for reform, and control the individuals from the District Boards who will elect the 10 members for the 1995 Legco. A number of Chinese papers repeatedly report that Britain and China have set their own deadline for the resolution of the issues. Pro-British opinion claims that talks must end around December, to allow the Government and Legco sufficient time to organise for the local and Legco votes. The same sources say that if agreement can't be reached by Britain and China by November, he will table the democracy bills. China, meanwhile, is keeping up its own stream of bluff, counter-bluff and lately threats of an early takeover of the territory. The dispute centres around the through train criteria for all legislators but the Chinese have declined to discuss the issue in the latest round of talks. Pundits have other ideas that will allow Mr Patten to keep up a public face, even if most of us are ware of his descent into hell over the democracy package. Among his other problems is that he is now perceived as a one-issue governor on a losing streak. To diffuse the criticism, he has become much more vocal recently on improving the environment and has campaigned for more effective control of corruption, and has been less vocal about enhanced democracy. Nobody can doubt his credentials on wanting to clean up the environment but corruption seems to have emerged rather recently as a bread-and-butter issue. Sixteen months ago, the same gubernatorial enthusiasm was being visited upon law and order, when Mr Patten chose to barnstorm through Mongkok - the site of several violent multi-million dollar robberies, in the weeks leading up to his arrival on July 9. It it therefore assumed that fighting corruption will be the new cause celebre, and an effective smokescreen for the tedious democracy talks if he continue to stumble along without significant progress until there is no option but to table the bills. High noon in Hong Kong is nigh unless China accepts Britain's important concessions on the election committee and the appointment of District Board members and talks turkey on the through-train criteria for politicians.