Valedictory Speech 告別議案

Audrey Eu, Legislative Council

13th July 2008

 

Madam President,

 

The Civic Party was founded on 19 March 2006 during this legislative term. I make this valedictory speech as Leader of the Civic Party and hope it will be the first of many to come — by that I do not mean many speeches by me, but by many successive Civic Party Leaders to come.

 

First, we would like to pay tribute to you, Madam President. You will not be seeking re-election, thereby giving me, as your former competitor on the Hong Kong island, a slightly better chance of getting re-elected in September. We may not agree with every ruling of yours, but we certainly appreciate your intentions to uphold the spirit, the best traditions and the constitutional standing of this Council. We are also grateful for your good humour and your patience. Now that you will be free from long dreary hours of Legislative Council sittings, we are sure your health and, even more importantly, your political career can only improve from now on. Now that you are no longer going to be bound by neutrality as President of the Legislative Council, I hope you will speak out for Hong Kong’s interests in the higher political circles  into which you will move.

 

Seven months ago, we were joined by a new member. Anson, you too have declined to seek re-election. Critics say that your short-lived career as a legislator showed you should never have run in the first place. We cannot agree. It took extraordinary courage to move from the highest corridors of power to march with the common folks, fighting for universal suffrage and social justice. Cold shoulders of former friends and cool reception from former subordinates are not easy to live down.

 

Your term in the Legislative Council, albeit short, is invaluable in at least two respects. First, there is what you bring to the Legislative Council. You bring with you 40 years of administrative experience. You see through the flimsy excuses of the government officials who come to the Legislative Council and beat about the bush. Your criticisms are acutely incisive and widely reported. In this way, you are one of the best monitors of the Government that the public can hope for.

 

Then there is what you bring from the Legislative Council. Although you have been here for only seven months, you have spent so much time here and away from hoe that I hear you are in danger of being divorced had you decided to run again. With your first hand experience, and with your popular appeal and authoritative status, you can help to clear many of the public misconceptions that democratic legislators do nothing except oppose for the sake of opposing. In this way, you are one of the best ambassadors that we can hope for. We look forward to your continuous contribution to Hong Kong’s democratic development and good governance.

 

Martin, we met in the late 1970s when I joined the Bar. I served under you as the Honorary Secretary when you were Chairman of the Bar. When a woman says to a man, “My life is different because of you”, it may give rise to the wrong ideas. But Martin, I am afraid that is the case between you and me . Do you still remember the summer of 2000 when you proposed? As fate would have it, the day was 911. It was my birthday and the day after the Legislative Council election. We were both at a cocktail in the British Council. You proposed that I should take part in the Hong Kong island by-election for the seat left vacant by Gary Cheng of the Democratic Alliance for Betterment of Hong Kong. Since then, my life had never been the same and it indirectly led to the founding of the Civic Party. In all honesty, Martin, I cannot say I am thankful for what you have done to me, but we are deeply grateful for what you have done for Hong Kong.

 

Indeed a 15-minute valedictory speech will not be sufficient to recount all that you have done. So I would only say this. You are as fighting fit as the first day I met you. The end of the Legislative Council will only be a new beginning for you. We look forward to the day, hopefully, in the not too distant future when you will be able to travel freely to the Mainland, witness a much more open and democratic China and Hong Kong, which you and your patriotic friends in the Democratic Party have worked so hard for.

 

We thank all our democratic allies for their cooperation in fighting for universal suffrage which is a fundamental building block to good governance, real accountability and improvement to people’s livelihood. It has been fun working with you all. But there are daunting tasks ahead. True universal suffrage is by no means certain. We hope in the next term there will still be sufficient of us to share the workload and to maintain more than half in the geographical constituencies, and a third in the entire legislature.

 

On behalf of the Civic Party, I would also like to thank all colleagues in the Legislative Council, for fighting a good fight, for their jokes and of course, for their abundant supply of food. We are deeply grateful to the unfailing Secretariat, the legal advisors and the attentive staff who are amazingly perfect in every sense of the word.

 

Unfortunately I cannot be as generous with some of the government officials who think the Civic Party is merely here to give them headaches. Maybe that is why we see many Secretaries present for this motion, to wish some of us “good riddance”. But we are a persistent bunch. We believe the truth will always  triumph in the end. Meanwhile, on behalf of the Civic Party, I wish you all a good summer and good health.

Thank you.

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