The Last Colonial Oppressor

Chris Patten likes to call himself that.
He was at the University of Hong Kong a few weeks back and I had the pleasure of listening to a most interesting and entertaining talk.

Chris Patten is today the Chancellor of the Oxford University and finally cleared the doubt that, had for long been brewing in my mind. Why do we have Chancellors of University when they don’t seem to do much? Chris Patten explained, “How could we have Vice-Chancellor if there was no Chancellor!”

He told us how he was best known for leaving jobs rather than arriving in one. And on another occasion, while traveling in a US taxi he was told how like Chris Patten he looked.

Something that he seemed quite sure about was that the new world order had to acknowledge the rise of Asia, and especially China and India. There were suddenly a lot of fists being pumped in the Loke Yew Hall, and these included the fists of a few Indians who were there too. He spoke on how between the 15th and 18th centuries India and China collectively accounted for over 50% of the worlds GDP. He seemed confident that China would have the largest GDP in a few years. Here is something I said to a friend a few days back during our conversation about the economic rise of India and China, “You have 2.5 billion people growing economically, at an average of 8% a year”. I think this puts things into perspective.

India off-course suffers from many inherent problems; one of them being the Communist Party of India, which is part of the coalition government in India. As Mr. Patten puts it “India has a Communist party that still believes in communism”.

He went on to talk about Hong Kong, a city he has a lot of affinity towards. And the people here seem reciprocate, they have a visible liking to their “Last Oppressor”. He said that the Hong Kong community was liberal but not yet democratic. He said that Hong Kong had all the qualities of a successful democracy: an independent judiciary, clean police and a clean civil service. “When you look around Asia, HK has one of the most open societies”, he said. I second that!

Chris Patten has recently released a book called “Not quite a Diplomat”, though he did handle a lot of the questions relating to HK’s path towards democracy with diplomacy. He did answer one question un-diplomatically though; on being asked what would happen if China’s growth stutters, he said, “If China goes wrong – God bless all of us!!”
And I could imagine all the Anti-WTO protestors going – “so much for globalization”


At 2:05 AM, Anonymous Elisa said...

Hi! It's Elisa again! Great to know you went to that event! I was planning to go but didn't have time! Could u please tell me more about it?


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