On July 01,1997,at 00:00 Hong Kong Time,Lord Christopher Patten,sent the following telegram: “I have relinquished the administration of this government.

Written by Shalini Rai | Published: March 28, 2009 10:49 pm

The last British Governor of Hong Kong,Lord Christopher Patten,on the continued threat of terrorism,perils of climate change and his experience as a diplomat

On July 01,1997,at 00:00 Hong Kong Time,Lord Christopher Patten,sent the following telegram: “I have relinquished the administration of this government. God save the Queen. Patten.” These few words marked the end of end of the British rule in Hong Kong and after the handover ceremony,Patten,the last Governor of Hong Kong until its handover to the People’s Republic of China on June 30,1997,left the port city,along with Prince Charles,on board the HMY Britannia. In town to deliver a talk on What Next: Surviving the 21st Century,this British conservative politician and diplomat was elected Chancellor of the Oxford University in 2003. He is also the author of Not Quite the Diplomat and East and West.

In your experience as a diplomat,which ranges from being the last Governor of Hong Kong to Commissioner for External Relations in the European Commission,to chairman of the Independent Commission on Policing for Northern Ireland,which is the tenure that has been most memorable?

It will have to be my tenure as the Governor of Hong Kong from July 1992 to June 1997. Leaving Hong Kong was a memorable moment for me and my family for three reasons. Firstly,we left behind a successful economy,one that had seen a lot of progress in the infrastructure and social sectors. Secondly,we departed with a sense of responsibility at having done a good job of administering it. And finally,because Hong Kong is one of the best maritime cities in the world and a great place to live in.

Climate change is a threat that looms large and yet,there’s a feeling in developing nations of a general abdication of responsibility by first world countries. Having steered the Environmental Protection Act (EPA) 1990 through the British Parliament,what do you think needs to be done to change the status quo?

We’ve got to start moving beyond saying the right things and start doing the right things. These would have to be cutting CO2 emissions by 80% over 1990 levels by 2050,especially by developed nations. Also,bringing down the per head emissions in first world countries,which are much more than in such hugely-populated countries as India and China,is needed. At some point in the future,the developed nations will have to take responsibility for their contribution to global warming.

Do you think the worldwide economic recession is going to last longer than expected? And what message do you have for people in this bleak economic scenario?

Despite all the problems,which includes the economic downturn and threat to the environment,I’d like to stress that there is no reason to be excessively pessimistic. None of the problems we are faced with are insoluble. At the forthcoming G-20 summit in London,world leaders should move beyond offering platitudes about saving the planet and do something tangible for environment protection.

Global terrorism has reached alarming threat levels,is no longer confined to the vicinity and is almost at India’s doorstep.Comment.

Terrorism is likely to be a threat for many years to come and the best way to deal with it is by preventing it. We should avoid falling into the trap of identity politics,which is one of the reasons why extremism breeds,in the first place. It’s important not to repeat the mistakes of the past and lend democracy in Pakistan sufficient support.

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