IT is fashionable in Hong Kong these days, whenever we speak of the future, to speak of 1997 as if it marks a clean break in our history and as if the continuity hitherto will somehow be discontinued. Speaking at the 175th Anniversary Speech Day of Ying Wa College, Chief Justice Sir Ti-liang Yang explained that it was enshrined in the Basic Law that many aspects of our life would go on. Our lifestyle, education and banking systems, commerce and industry, freedoms and opportunities and, most importantly, legal system, will be preserved, he said. ''The laws now in force in Hong Kong - the very foundation upon which our whole society rests - will be maintained, and the bulk of the laws applied on the mainland shall not be applied in Hong Kong.'' The Chief Justice explained the three major changes that will take place. ''Firstly, the Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal and the Chief Judge of the High Court shall be Chinese citizens, who are permanent residents of Hong Kong. ''Secondly, Hong Kong's final appeals will be dealt with in Hong Kong by our own Court of Final Appeal, rather than by the Privy Council in London.'' Thirdly, the power of interpretation of the Basic Law will be vested in the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Even with these changes, the guest said that the rights we know and enjoy under our law and the Judiciary at the present time would be maintained. He emphasised that our society was governed by the rule of law and the legal system enjoyed a supremacy and dignity which had been jealously guarded for a very long time by the people of this territory. In his annual report, principal Mr Yeung Po-kwan announced that 75 Form Six students (81 per cent of the total) had won places in degree courses both here and overseas. ''We scored our highest distinction and credit rate, 54 per cent, in the 1993 Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination,'' said the principal, adding that two students obtained eight distinctions and that the percentage of distinctions and credits gained in Computer Studies was up to 91 per cent this year. ''We believe that a good performance in the exams is important; but equally important is the development of an analytical mind and intellectual curiosity, and the cultivation of an interest in extra-curricular activities,'' Mr Yeung said. ''These are and will continue to be our dedicated goals.''