District Governor 2000-2001

Continuity

What would my successor think?

(January 2000 Issue)

Even if you were only marginally interested in how our District is being managed, you would have heard by now that the Nominating Committee for the District Governor-nominee met on 16 December 1999 and selected Past President Johnson Chu of the Rotary Club of Peninsula as the nominee for Governor in 2001-02. In accordance with procedures outlined in the Manual of Procedure, if no valid challenges were received by early January, Johnson Chu would be presented at the RI Convention in June 2000 for election as our District Governor for 2001-02. At the time of writing, the position was not clear, but it should be at publishing time. My guess is we should all be congratulating Johnson at this time.

The selection and election are necessary processes for every district; and it does not take a genius to figure out that they provide handy material and opportunities for exchanges of views, gossip, criticisms and backstabbing. Some would argue that it shouldn’t because we are all volunteers and because Rotary is not a political organization etcetera, while others would say that we live in an imperfect world such that we can expect a bit of everything and learn to accept such imperfections as constructive enmity.

There is no right or wrong answer. Suffice it to say that our District have been through this before and have thoroughly discussed and agonized over the issues involved, culminating in a new procedure for assembling the Nominating Committee being adopted by the District and put into practice for the first time this year. The new procedure provides for a number of past presidents to be elected by clubs to represent them on the Nominating Committee and which number is to be matched by the most recent past district governors available for attending the meeting. It also provides for the more distant past district governors to attend the meeting as non-voting members.

One obvious advantage of the new procedure is that it removes the oft-repeated criticism that past district governors monopolize the selection and may not be best placed to select the best candidate. Another perceived advantage is that it would reduce causes for challenges. Time will tell whether the new procedure will serve us well. In particular, time will tell whether it can achieve the key objective of the nominating process, viz., to find someone as District Governor whom the membership is prepared to follow and have him or her represent them and reflect their interests at the local and international level.

Lest I may be misunderstood, let me hasten to say that I am not averse to the new nominating procedure, or the procedure the District has been following until recently, or for that matter, any procedure as long as it is in line with the spirit and principle outlined in the RI Manual of Procedure. Any system can produce leaders approved by some but shunned by others. More importantly, a system is only as good as the users operating it. In the present world of Rotary where continuity is more important than ever, my bottom line is this. If we are all leaders in the community, as we profess we are, we should not find it difficult to follow any leader for one year until and unless he or she has demonstratively deviated from the Object of Rotary or violated the laws of the land or become unfit or unsuitable for the office of governor. On the contrary, it should not be beneath anyone to continue to support an apparently less robust leader in order that our great institution can continue to flourish and benefit the world through the services we can offer.

This brings me to a question asked of President Carlo Ravizza at the 1999 Taipei Rotary Institute held in December. Noting that the importance of continuity is enshrined in the current RI theme, a member asked whether the President knew what his successor was thinking and what would happen if Frank Devlyn or his successors introduced RI themes that might not be conducive to the maintenance of continuity. In response, the President said in essence that the spirit of continuity has already been so entrenched in RI that the annual RI theme would in future highlight policy emphases on programs rather than ushering in changes to policy objectives. What is of vital importance is to bring in quality members in quantity in order to maintain continuity.

I suggest that we can apply the same spirit at the district level in the interest of continuity. This would enable us collectively to build up a system to administer the District that would enable clubs to operate service programs more efficiently and cost effectively. It would help us establish and reinforce the esprit de corps among us and make us proud of the organization to which we belong. We would then be more aware of community needs and be better placed to serve those who need our service. We would then be better able to contribute towards world peace and international understanding and help create a better community to which the people would want to belong. On this note, I wish you all a happy start to a millennium and may the spirit of continuity stay with you always, regardless of who is or will be taking charge.