1. An Engineer's letter to Albert Lai一封給黎廣德的信
Dear Mr. Lai,
I wish to write to you yesterday after receiving your mail because I share so much of your feeling. I intended to do this in Chinese, but it took me a long time to type out a few lines last night, and I gave up. Today, at the front page of many newspapers, there is the Secretary's photo announcing the construction of the high speed rail link to China. I felt so dejected in seeing that. Where are we engineers?
I shared your pride of being a professional civil engineer when I got the MICE after years of hard work . I saw my title at the level of doctors and lawyers, and certainly much higher than being a teacher or bank manager. I am proud of being a professional who could make independent judgment on issues and defend our professionalism. However, as we see, as years gone by, we are far lag behind, being overtaken by many other professions. In the eyes of the public, we speak for the prestige class, but not the general public. Now, I even feel ashamed of being an engineer and I would not tell people that I am an engineer. What had gone wrong? I try to bring this down into 3 areas to facilitate discussion:
We engineers in society - we are now being labelled by the public as a group of "conservatives" who worked for the wealth and justify their being continuing with creating more wealth. We are far behind in having our voice heard in the public media standing up to speak for the people. We are selfish.
Engineers in the government organisation - Since the disbandment of PWD, we are not a powerful group in the government structure anymore. Followed by weak engineers leader who would never stand up to say NO to the AO, we have become "slaves" (I hate to use this word) to them. We are trailed to a second or even third class professional, surpassed by many other grades in government. We are in the present situation because some of our engineers are selfish. They are willing to sacrifice our professionalism for the sake of their own promotion opportunities. The AOs are very happy to see us having a weak engineer head. See the police; can the AO put their hands into it?
The standard of engineers - I could see our standard dropping over the decades. The professional exam cannot upkeep our standard, particularly during the years when we had an acute shortage of engineers in the late '80s and early 90s.
I am very happy to see someone like you standing up to try to do something to help our profession. Though I am not too optimistic, it is better than doing nothing. I write here to give you encouragement to continue with the good work you have done so far.
2. Reply from Albert Lai 黎廣德的回函
Thank you for writing this heart-felt letter, for which I am truly grateful.
I can sense your pride, your passion and your frustration throughout the long years of striving to be a conscientious engineer dedicated to the public good. These are the core values we Hongkongers, not only engineers, should learn to uphold.
Yes, we have gone through a long decline in many aspects but all is not lost: we have not lost our passion for change. You and your words are themselves testimony to the free human spirit. In our hearts we know what is wrong, and what needs to be put right.
Sometimes the external obstacles may be too big for individual effort to make a dent of it. Yet these times will not last. When more and more people are aware of where we are and why we are here, the passion for change will grow, and the obstacles will no longer be immovable.
I have kept this faith for the last three decades, and I have witnessed changes against all odds.
But I will not be able to do it alone. I need people like you to make change possible. You can help now by spreading the words, sending the message to your friends and colleagues, reminding them to register as voters before May 16, and inviting them to connect with me so that our network for like-minded engineers may grow