Posts Tagged ‘JohnWan’
My Dear Action Presidents, Club Secretaries and Rotary Leaders,
In the May issue of The Rotarian magazine, President Frank once again urged Rotarians to continue to bring in new members with fresh vision and energy. His forceful message should dispel the myth that life for a Rotary leader ends on 1 July and that because there are only a few weeks to the end of the current term, the current leadership should step aside and leave the work to the next crop of leaders.
While our term may end, our responsibility towards our fellow human beings or mankind will never end. Economic growth and technological advancement have improved the livelihood of many in affluent economies including ours, but we would not be fulfilling our responsibilities to humankind if we continue to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to the plight of the millions in yet to be developed economies. Past President James Lacy introduced the Children Opportunities Grant when he was president. He spoke passionately of the millions of children who roamed the streets every night looking for food and shelter. Now we also learn that many of these children might never taste clean water in their lives, might never wear shoes or clean clothes and might never have any chance to be educated.
Some sociologists and social activists are quick to attribute the seemingly inequitable wealth distribution to corruption in governments and even in relief agencies, to technology and to globalization. While Rotarians are non-political and would endeavour to distance ourselves from these issues, we ought not distance ourselves from the people who are caught in these issues. These are the people who need us most. It was against this background that I have been asking each and every member in the District to make it a habit to contribute to the Rotary Foundation, and specifically to contribute US$100 per year per member. I am glad that the Council on Legislation, which just ended, has passed a resolution that would encourage clubs to move towards this direction. It is worth repeating that without contributions on a continuing basis, the Rotary Foundation would find it hard to continue with its many educational and humanitarian projects.
Talking of humanitarian projects, at the International Convention in June in San Antonio, President Frank would present RI’s highest honour, the Rotary Award for World Understanding and Peace to Dr. Pramod Karan Sethi, a retired orthopedic surgeon from Jaipur, India. Dr. Sethi developed the “Jaipur Foot,” an artificial limb that has transformed the lives of millions of landmine and polio victims in India and other developing countries. In announcing the award, President Frank talked of the great admiration of the members of Rotary, as fellow humanitarian activists, for Dr. Sethi’s dedication to helping the poorest of the poor. Noting that Dr. Sethi had abandoned a practice that caters to the rich, President Frank went on to say, “To him, ethical and humane services have been the basis of the medical profession. He has consistently practiced and advocated values that keep the patient, particularly the poor, at the center of medical concern.”
Not all of us have the brains and adroitness of Dr. Sethi, but it is possible for the average service-minded Rotarian to emulate his spirit or to contribute to the Rotary Foundation which has funded many matching grants in support of the preparation and distribution of artificial limbs to victims, including of course the “Jaipur Foot,” particularly if we consider the vast disparity in National Income between Hong Kong and India.
There is actually plenty of scope for developed economies to help developing and less developed countries. It also makes a lot of economic sense. The agenda for the 21st Century may now appear to be heavily biased towards information technology, innovation and technology or biotechnology, hence the pre-occupation on the digital divide and the perceived urgency to narrow the gap. However, the single most important item on the agenda would perhaps be the creation of awareness that all human beings, all nations and all economies are interdependent. The sooner we are able to develop action plans to create such awareness; the better it would be for the human race and mankind as a whole. I therefore see a big role for volunteer organizations and service organizations such as Rotary to take the lead to create awareness and take action to create a better world for everyone – a world with a new order where people are encouraged to understand each other and treasure peace. Service-minded Rotarians with their professional knowledge and business experience in particular can help the poorer nations to grow out of poverty and savour economic prosperity. With this objective in mind, the motivation to recruit more service-minded people can never be greater.
Talking of volunteers, earlier this year, President Frank spoke at the 16th IAVE World Volunteer Conference held in Amsterdam in January. The United Nations had proclaimed the year 2001 as the International Year of Volunteers and the conference was the first in a series of international events. President Frank stressed that Rotarians were all volunteers and that Rotarians work in partnership with both public and private organizations to serve their communities better. President Frank went on to say that volunteers were the backbone of all non-governmental organizations and that in this International Year of Volunteers, “let us create awareness of the contribution of our volunteers and take action to celebrate, stimulate, and demonstrate solidarity with the dynamic volunteer movement.”
In Hong Kong, the Agency for Volunteer Service organized an International Year of Volunteers Steering Committee involving professional bodies, business sector and welfare agencies. Our District is also represented on the Committee. Which sent a delegation of 16 volunteers and volunteer administrators to the January Conference. The delegation reported on their visit last month during which the Steering Committee also unveiled the revised Universal Declaration on Volunteering. (See page 4 for full text.)
Talk to you soon.
Rotaractors celebrated World Rotaract Week; Ask a friend to join Rotary now; Don’t miss the next District Conference
My Dear Action Presidents, Club Secretaries and Rotary Leaders,
World Rotaract Week is the week in which 13 March falls. This year, our Rotaractors celebrated the week by launching a campaign to create awareness in the community that spina bifida in children can be a largely preventable and hence avoidable condition. Spina bifida is a congenital abnormality affecting the spinal cord and spinal column. During the early life of the embryo the outer layer of cells running down the back of the body curls over to form the neural groove and this closes right over to become a tube lying just below the surface skin. The tube then develops into the spinal cord and spinal column. In spina bifida the primitive neural groove fails to close and the vertebral canal becomes deficient at the back causing anatomical and functional abnormalities of varying degree. The condition could be life threatening at worst and causes severe clinical management problems as well as social, educational and emotional adjustment problems at least. Research has now indicated that 80% of the condition in the newborn can be avoided if the mother takes sufficient folic acid three to four weeks before pregnancy. Folic acid is available in all vegetables and fruits.
Our Rotaractors created awareness for spina bifida by preparing information cards and distributing them to passers-by in busy streets. They also motivated the over 100 graduating Rotary Youth Leadership Award campers to be volunteers. Speaking of RYLA, this is the first year the District RYLA Committee had Rotaractors as full members. They participated fully and actively in the planning, organizing and running of the RYLA Camp. At the Closing Ceremony, participants demonstrated their enthusiasm and newly gained Rylarian spirit. It was a highly successful operation and I am positive that both Rotarians and Rotaractors have learnt useful lessons in the process. Hopefully, we have planted Rotary seeds in these youths’ mind that would last them for a life time, regardless of whether or not they would become Rotaractors or Rotarians one day.
By the time you read this, there would be less than 100 days left in this Rotary Year. I thank you to ask yourself what you have done to create awareness for membership growth and what action you have taken. Remember that long before our year began, President Frank Devlyn challenged each club to increase its net membership by five Rotarians. In response, I set ambitious goals to achieve a quantum increase in membership. I was glad that PDG Moses Cheng agreed to be the District Membership Development Task Force Coordinator. Moses and I have since been urging each club to take up President Frank’s challenge. Indeed, Moses further designed the “Challenge 2001” scheme with the object of bringing the District membership to 2001, or an all time high, by 30 June 2001.
So far, only a handful of clubs have met President Frank’s five-a-club challenge, and we are still a long way to the membership goal set by PDG Moses. For the past eight months, our membership strength has been hovering around the 1,700 mark. We recorded 1,702 members at the end of February. During this period, we actually brought in some 160 new members, but we also lost 130. At this rate, it would seem that we would never make our goal.
But this cannot be the attitude or mindset of Action Presidents and Action Team Members. We have all been encouraged from the outset to emulate the spirit of Don Quixote – to dream the impossible dream and to reach the unreachable star. More than that, we have been reminded that we are to be Don Quixotes with a mission and a goal. This month, President Frank Devlyn asked, “Have you asked someone today to join Rotary?” President Frank went on to say that now is the time to ask, to ask someone to join Rotary today. If every member in District 3450 does that between now and end of June, we would over-achieve our target of 2001 before 30 June; and even if only a fifth of the membership succeeds in bringing in a member each, we could achieve our District membership goal comfortably.
Take action now. Talk to a friend. Talk to your friends about Rotary. Tell them not just the wonderful fellowship and the great time that they can expect from you and your club. Tell them that Rotary is about service. Tell them the great deeds that many quiet men and women have been doing for their less fortunate fellowmen. If they are still interested in joining us, you can be sure that they will be joining Rotary rather than a Rotary club.
Before I sign off, I would like to appeal to you again to register for the District Conference. We have good and solid programmes lined up. For speakers, we have from the Government, the Secretary for Home Affairs Mr W K Lam, from the academia, Professor Michael Enright, author of The Hong Kong Advantage, from the Mainland, a committee member of All China Youth Federation, and from the media, Bonnie Chiu from TVB. And I have yet to mention RI President’s Personal Representative Director-elect Toshio Itabashi and the many experienced and learned Rotarians from the District all of whom are worth their weight in gold.
Still on the programme, we are going to have, for the first time in a District Conference, a face-to-face encounter with the RI President himself through a satellite link-up. RI President Frank will be speaking to us live from Manila at the Asia-Pacific Presidential Conference. The theme of his conference will be “Youth and Service Opportunities” which is along the vein of ours, “Back to the Future.”
On entertainment and fellowship, Past President Haywood Cheung has promised a Governor’s Banquet with a difference and in style. There will be no long speeches, no endless presentation of awards and definitely no dull moments. For a preview, watch the recent broadcast of the Oscar Awards Presentation.
Talk to you soon.
Your Governor John Wan
Congratulations to Rotary mums; Register for District Conference; Council on Legislation; Support the Rotary Foundation
My Dear Action Presidents, Club Secretaries and Rotary Leaders,
I would like to begin by sharing with you the good news from Assistant Governor Amy Ho. Amy announced that at 22:29 hours on 22 January 2001, her first baby, arrived, weighing in at 6 pounds 6 ounces. Had the baby girl waited a day and an hour and a half longer, she could have been the first baby born in the Year of the Snake in Hong Kong. Amy also reported that mother and daughter were both doing well as she wished us a Happy New Year. Congratulations, Amy and well done. Now, we all wait for the arrival of Cinderella’s baby expected to be in April. We have already said that if the baby arrives on the 7th or 8th April through natural birth, mother and child will attend district conferences of our District free in future.
Yes, our District Conference will be held on 7 – 8 April 2001 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. RI President Frank Devlyn has appointed RI Director-elect Toshio Itabashi and his spouse, Ritsuko, to be his and Gloria Rita’s personal representatives to our District Conference. Director-elect Toshio has been a member of the Rotary Club of Ashikaga East, Japan since 1962. He is President of a paint and chemical distributing firm, Managing Director of the Japan Paint Commerce Association, Chairman of the Ashikaga Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Chairman of the Ashikaga International Association. He is also editor of Rotary-No-Tomo, and has served RI as district governor, International Assembly discussion leader, committee member, and Foundation regional coordinator. Director-elect Toshio is a Rotary heavyweight and a keen Rotarian. I look forward to meeting the couple and to sharing his Rotary wisdom.
My Action Presidents, now is the time to urge your members to register for the District Conference. I should stress that a district conference is for all club members and their spouses, not just for club officers and committee members. The purpose of a district conference is to showcase the achievements of clubs in the District and to provide occasions for fun, fellowship, inspirational speeches and discussion. The theme of the conference is Back To The Future. It is a reminder for us to look into the future – the future of Rotary, the future generations, and what the future means to you. We would bring in speakers outside Rotary and the District to provoke new thinking. We would try to make this a conference with a difference. Please urge your Rotaractor and Interactor advisers to register for their Rotaractors and Interactors and to encourage the youths to attend all the sessions, not just the youth sessions. Indeed, all sessions would be relevant to them, because we would be looking into the future. Rotaractors and Interactors attend free if they do not stay for the meals. This policy is in line with our commitment to the new generations and our resolve to live up to the challenge in the slogan, “Every Rotarian an Example to Youth.”
Also taking place in April, but in Chicago, Illinois, USA will be the Council on Legislation. The Council meets once every three years and will next meet on 22 – 27 April 2001. Past Governor Arthur Au will represent our District to attend and I believe you have all received his letter asking you for views on the proposed legislation to be considered. I received in the post the booklet (Volume I) with the complete text of the duly proposed legislation, 527 in number. It is 4-cm thick. There are two types of legislation – enactments and resolutions. A proposed enactment is intended to amend the constitutional documents of RI, i.e., the RI constitution, the RI bylaws and the Standard Rotary Club Constitution. A proposed resolution is legislation that does not seek to amend the constitutional documents. The documents are printed in English, and in French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish. The English version of the legislation is considered the official document. The booklet is available in compact disc format and on the Rotary World Wide Web site. We have been advised that Volume II will soon be posted. This is a second booklet with the complete text of the duly proposed legislation that has been amended for errors in Volume I.
Back to the present, we are now in February, and February is Rotary’s World Understanding Month. On 23 February 1905, the first meeting of Rotary was held and the day is now designated World Understanding and Peace Day. DGN Gloria Chan organized a joint meeting in the evening on Friday, 23 February 2001 at the Regal Hong Kong Hotel. I am glad to see so many of you at the meeting.
World Understanding month is a chance for every club to pause, plan and promote the Fourth Avenue of Service – International Service – and to pursue Rotary’s continued quest for goodwill, peace and understanding among the people of the world. I discussed the international responsibilities of a Rotarian in my last letter. I urge all of you to take up the quest with due seriousness and to promote and practice international understanding in spirit and through action. As a start, consider our responsibilities towards our brothers and sisters in disaster stricken Mongolia, Inner Mongolia, India and El Salvador. Consider our responsibilities towards the Rotary Foundation and the wonderful programmes that can be carried out for humanity with our continuing contributions. Consider this an assignment and a duty to your fellowmen. This may sound quixotic, but in the words of President Frank Devlyn, let this be the year that people many years from now will recall as the year in which the Action Team of Presidents created awareness of the international responsibilities of a Rotarian and led the members to take action, by taking proactive steps in our disaster relief efforts, in our contribution to the Rotary Foundation and in our International Service programmes.
Talk to you soon.
Your Governor John Wan
The mission of volunteers;
Rotary supports IYV; PolioPlus and our international responsibilities; Happy Year of the Snake
Governor-elect Johnson said in the Continuity Column this month that he had received only six report forms from clubs on the election results. I expect he would have received many more returns by now, but probably not all. I know because I also receive a copy of all returns. Johnson wrote his letter two days before the end of December. He sounded worried, and for good reasons too. Failure to send these returns on time could result in the records of the clubs concerned not being updated in the next Official Directory, which in turn could result in the club officials not being able to receive communications from World Headquarters in good time or not at all.
It is worrying that so many club officials appeared to have little or no regard to rules of the organization that had freely and voluntarily joined. It is true that we are all volunteers, but so are the Rotarians at district and international level that are chasing for these and other returns. As volunteers, we volunteer our time and talents to serve others. Very often, volunteers set high standards for their voluntary work. They would put in extra efforts and time to ensure that the work and hence the service they render others freely would be of a standard even higher than the work for which they are paid. In advanced economies where voluntary work is a way of life, volunteers are required to observe codes of conduct that prescribe standards for the service they pledge to render of their free will and accord.
Rotarians are volunteers, but they are also business and professional people dedicated to providing humanitarian service, to encouraging high ethical standards in all vocations and to helping build goodwill and peace in the world. It follows that the service we render must be of a standard befitting business and professional people, or service of the highest standard. The Year 2001 is the International Year of Volunteers (IYV). Let us remind ourselves of the international responsibilities of a Rotarian and let us all strive to be an exemplary volunteer.
In the beginning of this Rotary Year, I set a District goal for us to promote Rotary’s image by participating proactively in the IYV. I am happy to report that on 7 January, we partnered with members of the Lions Clubs International District 303 and the Hong Kong Junior Chamber in the Hong Kong Walk, and we walked under a “Support Volunteers” banner. There will be more programmes of this nature coming up. Watch out for them.
January is Rotary Awareness Month, and President Frank Devlyn has urged us to promote the message of PolioPlus through our local media. President Frank reminded us the dramatic success stories of PolioPlus, in particular, of how Rotary partnered with institutions such as the World Health Organization, UNICEF, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and national governments worldwide to immunize more than two billion children against polio in the last five years, and of Rotary’s role in mobilizing 10 million volunteers each year in National Immunization Days. He said, “PolioPlus has proven that volunteers play a critical role in public health initiatives.”
I would like to join President Frank to urge you to make a special effort to create awareness in the community of Rotary’s efforts in the PolioPlus programme. The Rotary International Board of Directors has recognized PolioPlus as a special programme of RI that has the highest priority over all other programs until the certification of worldwide eradication is achieved in 2005. In 1985 when the programme began, there were 125 polio-endemic countries. The figure has since declined to 30. To date, 122 nations around the world have benefited from PolioPlus grants. As of June 2000, Rotary has committed more than US$378 million to global polio eradication and the contribution to the programme would exceed half a billion US dollars by 2005.
From PolioPlus, I move to The Rotary Foundation. In the year ending June 2000, The Rotary Foundation received total contributions of US$73.7 million and paid out US$90.7 million in programme awards, including US$37.6 on PolioPlus. The Foundation needs contributions on a continuing basis to ensure that the on-going humanitarian and educational programmes can be sustained. The returns ending November 2000 for the District showed that contributions from clubs had been slower than expected, and District Annual Giving Sub-Committee Chairman Past President Johnny Fan had made a number of appeals on several occasions to urge club presidents to remind members of their earlier pledges. Once again, I appeal to you to be mindful of the international responsibilities of a Rotarian and to develop a habit to contribute to The Rotary Foundation on a continuing basis. In the beginning of my term, I encouraged each member to contribute US$100 each year and clubs to become 100% Paul Harris clubs. We are not yet there.
Still on the internationality of Rotarians, Governor-nominee Gloria Chan is organizing a Joint Meeting of at least seven clubs to celebrate World Understanding and Peace Day on Friday, 23 February 2001. It will be an evening meeting, to be held at the Regal Hong Kong Hotel. I urge you to encourage your members to make an effort to attend. Gloria has invited Professor Edward Chan, Vice Chancellor of Ling Nam University to speak on “Towards a Harmonious International Economy.” It will be a great way to celebrate Rotary’s anniversary.
Before I sign off, I would like to wish all of you a prosperous Year of the Snake. As in every year this time, we are inundated with information, predictions and forecasts from astrologists, soothsayers and fengshui experts of all descriptions. So far, the year does not augur well. I urge you not to be disheartened, for it is in such times that the need for volunteers and do-gooders would be most felt.
Kung Hei Fat Choi.
Your Governor John Wan
First of all, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everybody! You have worked very hard in the year 2000 and you deserve a break and a happy holiday with your family and loved ones.
Our DGN Gloria was in Australia earlier this month. Words traveled fast: a local television network in Australia got wind of the happy news, tracked her down and interviewed her for nearly an hour during which she talked about her vision of Rotary and recent development in District 3450 including the addition of Mongolia to our territory. Both interviewer and interviewee were apparently satisfied with the interview because no editing or a second take was necessary. The interview is now on tape and no doubt Gloria would make it available to her fans on request.
You should all be planning for the election of the next board of directors. Once again, I would like to remind you to send your club election results on the prescribed form by end of the year to Rotary World Headquarters with a copy each to Governor-elect Johnson and me.
In the next few weeks, your Assistant Governor and District Secretary would be calling on you to discuss how best to secure the Presidential Citation and other awards. These District officials are there to help you, specifically to help you achieve your goals. Most presidents have only one chance to be presidents in a lifetime. I urge you therefore to make the best use of the remaining months of your term and reach your goals. Remember what President Frank Devlyn said of Don Quixote? He said that Don Quixote never had any doubt on whether his dreams could be realized. In the same spirit, all of you Action Presidents should never have any doubt on your ability to achieve the goals for the year. His Presidential Citation is there for the taking. Go for it!
Also in the coming weeks, RYLA Chairman Stephen Tsai (Quarry Bay) will be asking for nominations for the 2001 RYLA Camp, while GSE Chairman Dicky Yip (Admiralty) for GSE team members and a leader. Both programmes are designed for young people. Do not be shy to nominate your young staff or Rotaractors to go on either programme. These are wonderful programmes. Give the youths a chance and send in your nominations early.
Our District Conference would be held on 7 and 8 April 2001 at the Convention and Exhibition Centre. Past President Kay Lau (Hong Kong Harbour) is Conference Chairman and Past President Haywood Cheung (New Territories) Committee Chairman for the Governor’s Banquet. I am happy to have these two dedicated Rotarians working on this single most important project in the next few months. Both are heavyweights in our District and are known to be first class organizers. Both have promised to offer innovative and special programmes that you would not like to miss. The theme of the Conference is “Back to the Future” to remind us to look to the future. Please start promoting the Conference at your weekly meetings and register early. The full package, including the Governor’s Banquet, two lunches, three coffee breaks and a Conference kit, costs $1,800, the same price tag for the Conference organized three years ago by Past Governor Jason Yeung.
Back to my official visits, by mid-December, I have visited all except three clubs officially. I made follow-up visits to some clubs and I tried to attend all anniversary dinners or balls. I missed a few; and I could not attend a few District functions because they clashed with other appointments. I have enjoyed every meeting and every function I attended. As I thank the Action Presidents, the Rotarians involved and my District Team for the hard work and hospitality and for making these occasions enjoyable, I would like to apologize to the Action Presidents and Rotarians who were disappointed because of my inability to turn up at their functions.
I have often been asked whether I find all these activities tiring or tiresome and whether I am feeling relieved now that the halfway mark is in sight. Well, the short answer is no. Life is a series of choices. Since a friend introduced me to Rotary some years back, Rotary has become part of my life, and I am glad. In the same way that one ought not be tired of life, I do not think I would ever be tired of Rotary. Yes, there were times when club members failed to deliver, did not honour promises and made me feel more stupid than I really was. In such cases, I would remind myself that life comes in a package and that all the sham, drudgery and broken dreams had nothing to do with Rotary or Rotary’s Ideal of Service.
It is this Ideal of Service that has kept me going, and dare I say that has motivated many Rotarians worldwide all these years in their strive for world peace and international understanding. It is all these selfless men and women doing great deeds quietly that has made Rotary the great organization that it now is. I often see images of these men and women during my visits to clubs. I am encouraged every time I see them and I can never see them often enough.
On this note, I wish all of you, your loved ones and your families once again a joyous holiday season ahead. May the spirit of Christmas fill you with faith, love and hope, reinforce your Rotary spirit, enhance your creativity and capacity, create awareness in you and enable you to take action in your club, in your community and in your world, for the greater good of humanity in general and for the good of the people who need your service in general.
Talk to you soon.
Your Governor John Wan