我記得1984年2、3月，消息傳到仍是寒風徹骨的劍橋，中英談判在1月已有決定性的發展，英方全面放棄97後在香港有任何角色。這個消息，對於我們這一 批一直藉着向英方施壓，要求英方在談判桌上維護香港前途的人來說，是個打擊也是個解脫。我們既害怕中共的管治，也不屑倚賴英廷的蔭庇，如今，我們被迫要長 大了，與其擔憂來日的不可測，不如勇敢面對，積極計劃，創建未來。
那時，我在《南華早報》寫專欄，回到宿舍，我就寫了“Now We Stand Alone” ，寫出了在我心目中為保存香港的自由法治，我們必須建立的民主制度，呼籲香港人負起這個責任，利用這容易飛逝的13載光陰。
這篇文章震撼了保守的《南早》，一向很支持我的總編輯Robin Hutcheon起初也不肯刋登，我越洋跟他吵了一場，決絕地說他不登，我就改投Hong Kong Standard。後來，不知他如何說服了什麼人，居然就刋登了，但「轉會」已不能挽回。
29年過去了，重看這篇一直保存的文章，感慨自己一直未改變過，香港的局勢也未改變過。其實，中英談判，英方注定是要輸的，因為沒有任何一個英國首相會負 起對香港的道義責任，容許所有在香港出生的女皇陛下的子民自動享有居英權。中方同樣注定只能全面恢復行使主權，不然就是中華民族的千古罪人。大部分香港人 一面擔憂中共政權，另一面又說不出口要延長殖民地管治。支持回歸，反對向外國人「乞求」居留權，其實餘下的一途就是自救，奮力參與政治建立起民主制度。為 此，我29年前說，我們要預備好付出代價。也許，吳靄儀被打成「港獨」份子，就是這篇文章闖的禍。
編按：“Now We Stand Alone”刊於1984年3月28日出版的《南華早報》，全文如下：
It's our home, our future, our battle and we must take the banner in our own hands — Now we stand alone
We are at the brink of a new era. Hongkong politics since January has become a whole new ball game.
The faint hearted will do well to drop out. Those who stay must be prepared for swift action without a chance to look back.
Thirteen years will fly past like a whiff: we cannot afford to drag our feet if we want anything done. But these 13 years will be a very good time to do things in; for our hands are now united.
No more the need to compromise with the establishment and keep silent in the hope of giving peace a chance; no more the fear that embarrassing one or the other party will bring on irreplaceable harm.
There is no point now in holding on to the old order. Freely we go into the dark, to forge from it a new one.
What unbinds us is the indubitable fact that Britain has given up the territory.
Before and up to January the ironic situation was that Britain was the best champion of our free society, to argue our case so that we will remain outside the communist regime of the PRC.
It made sense then to rally round the colonial Government, to maintain staunchly in the teeth of accusations of sycophancy and betrayal of the Chinese race, that it was better to be a Colony and free than Chinese and under state dictatorship.
After January there is no point in doing so. As Britain had given up on us, we must give up Britain.
Likewise, before January it made sense to refrain from saying or doing anything which might antagonise China.
There was wisdom in the belief that if we could pretend everything was going well then everything would. Making it easier for China to prolong the status quo was the right thing to do.
Now we know for sure where we stand with China. The writing is no longer on the wall but in the files for record.
Thus we have arrived at a stage when we have no more champions or protector. We must now take the banner in our own hands — or all is lost.
The bold motion of Legco that no plan for the territory be finalised without open debate by the council is a slightly delayed reaction to this realization.
Last year, the press berated bitterly and repeatedly the silence of Legco members, the supposed leaders of our community.
Silence was the price they paid in consideration for a better chance to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion on our future at the negotiation table. Must not make trouble for it might jeopardize that chance.
They co-operated with the British Government because they sincerely believed co-operation was the best bet. They may have judged wrongly and acted clumsily, but in the case of most of the councilors the motivation was undoubtedly unexceptionable.
In the face of the latest development that silence has not only become pointless, but dangerous. Every sector is responding with lively interest to the agreement of China resuming sovereignty in 1997 and thereafter giving Hong Kong a 50-year period of grace, and everyone is asking how a new leadership may emerge.
For Legco to maintain silence and a low profile further will be absurd, and that absurdity will cost them their leadership. They will be left in the cold, and that position will be intolerable to them.
For the good of Hong Kong Legco must not become an absurd show of empty gestures. It must gain strength and transform itself into the democratic body that can really rule the territory.
This is the least disruptive and surest way to a strong and stable new leadership, achieved not by the creation of utopia founded on elaborate theories, but by improving what we have got.
We do not need a New Territories Regional Council; we do not need any more intermediate, purely-administrative bodies that merely enlarge the bureaucracy, take up time and cause even greater delays.
The time for a mild dosage of participation without actually going so far as to annoy China or affect colonial authority has passed.
The people must have real political power now, in the simplest, most direct way possible.
And we must fight for this power, for of his own accord the Chief Secretary is not going to give us democracy if we wait 100 years.
The development of Legco in the past few years first showed a trend of opening up, gaining confidence and assuming real importance as a body which scrutinizes Government policies and the functioning of Government departments.
It has not exactly done the job with uniform brilliance and efficacy but on the whole it has been moving in the right direction, until recently.
What has happened within the past year is the gradual shift of power. The pressure to open up Legco to elected membership and the Government’s reluctance to do so, resulted in the compromise of admitting a few elected district board members into the council.
Meanwhile a few outspoken younger Unofficials were moved up into the Executive Committee.
What this means is that we are heading for a system of district boards which have little constitutional power and have failed to gain any in the period following their establishment; a Legislative Council acquiring on the one hand “safe” grassroots representatives who have as yet made little impact and on the other, for exactly the reason of these acquisitions, being made less close to Government decisions; and the Executive Council which now is everything on its way to being the only thing that really matters.
Here is demonstrated the well-known Parkinson ’s Law about where power resides: as lower councils grow to admit more, power shifts upwards to the next highest conclave. If and when this conclave grows again, a new higher or upper conclave will be created.
The Government is now talking about more participation and possibly holding Legco elections.
Let us beware and remember this one important fact: there is no point in having elections if Legco’s power is undermined.
Elections are worthwhile only if Legco has real power.
For the purpose of running up to self-government Legco should be more powerful, not less. Indeed it makes sense to make a reconstituted Legco the heart of our political structure.
A direct link should be formed between Legco and the district boards which would advise Legco.
The Executive Council, rather than being above Legco, should be held accountable to it in much the same way as the cabinet should be accountable to parliament.
I say “should be” because we must do better than Britain where the cabinet dominates parliament to a large extent.
And in between — Legco, the district boards, and Exco-Legco — there should be no imtermediate bodies. The links must be direct if the system is to be effective.
The bodies whose position will be anomalous to this system are the Urban Council and the Heung Yee Kuk.
Under the placating philosophy of the Government they have been kept, though the government hoped to erode their roles with the district board system.
The Government of course did not succeed, and will not ever succeed with on the one hand its fear of their opposition and on the other its reluctance to give anybody real power.
But these bodies must go now as separate organisations. Their present leaders should take their places in the new Legco as individuals representing large interest groups. If they have the backing, let them try to dominate Legco. They will see that this gives them more power, not less.
The detailed composition of the new Legco needs careful thinking, but it is difficult to see how appointed membership can exist there without anomaly.
The continued existence of official members seemed to be defensible and indeed helpful, but we cannot now accept a superior authority appointing unofficials.
The only legitimate source of appointment will be by election.
But there should be no artificial and indeed no more limitations than absolutely necessary. The only acceptable criterion for membership is excellence.
If by a process of election we do not end up with the best people who are willing to serve, well then it serves us right.
To have one kind of elections by district, namely for the district boards, is good enough. We need the best people we have got, and the system must facilitate their surfacing.
Where is our new leadership to come from? This is the crux of the matter. And we need to answer that question fast.
I have always had my doubts about democracy, the election process and claims of representation of the people.
There is no question that elections favour every time the diligently self-motivated ambitious more than the high-minded who are more concerned with serving the public than manipulating it to elect them.
I dislike the rule of the majority because the triumphant majority is so apt to disregard the rights of the minority.
Yet at the end of the day we have no better choice than democracy. Humanity has not yet invented a better system, and so we must stick to this.
A year ago, I would have said that appointed unofficials were a good idea because some people who were willing to serve and who had something to contribute were not always good at electioneering or could afford the time or money to campaign.
Now I would say, if you want to serve the people, go out to the streets and win them. If you do not learn about power, your ideas are worth very little. If you are not prepared to stand for elections, then you must be prepared to stay outside the governing body. The time has come to get tough.
What is the above a blueprint of? It is a blueprint of self-government for Hong Kong, to be achieved within the next, short, 13 years.
Even assuming that there is agreement on that system, there may be a fundamental difference of attitudes as to how we should aim at governing.
Given that after 1997 China will assume sovereignty; given that China will then give us the 50-year period of autonomy or near autonomy; China intends that Hongkong become a part of the great socialist system in the long run. What will be the aim of the Government we shall have formed?
Two attitudes are possible: co-operation and resistance. The co-operative attitude aims at gradually bringing Hongkong closer to China in terms of government, political ideology, style of living, cultural life, involvement in Chinese politics, acceptance of Chinese leadership and the like.
The emphasis of education will change to promote that aim. More and more people from the mainland will come to Hongkong to study, work, live and make holiday; more putonghua will be heard and spoken, more official visits of Chinese leaders, more visible participation of Chinese investment in the Hongkong market.
The achievement is that we should hardly feel it when we become socialist rather than capitalist, nationals of the PRC rather than citizens of Hongkong.
The attitude of resistance aims, on the contrary, at safeguarding the loss of our identity with the loss of our liberty.
Its motto will be “no reunification without autonomy,” and under this motto self-government will direct itself to strengthen those institutions which safeguards our liberty, by developing the democratic system of active participation in government, by removing the obstacles to open criticism and freedom of expression, by accustoming people to regard these as their rights and by building up a tradition of political involvement.
Political leaders, no less than the public, shall have to learn to accept democracy and abide by its rules.
We shall need a strong leadership supported by a public which is aware of its rights and informed about Government policies and the way Government operates.
The last thing we need is a horrendous scramble for power ending in messy confusion or factionism, and the public blown hither and thither because it does not know what is going on or what it wants.
The worst is the most likely to happen, given our present apathy, ignorance and ambivalence, not to mention the wonderful plans of some of our most senior Government officials.
But we must resist all these — our own inner reluctance as well as the Government officials.
For, Hongkong is no longer anybody else's home or anyone else’s battle but our own, and 13 years is a short time.
We cannot afford to waste even a minute of it.