Skin-deep penalty for circumventing rules

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 June, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 June, 1995, 12:00am

ONCE in a while, inventions pop up around the world which appear to have dual applications. For some time now, Lai See has been considering the problem of corporate governance in the territory and was fascinated to receive details of the following gadgets.

In Casablanca, visitors have been standing five deep around an exhibit demonstrating the uses of an automatic circumcising scalpel.

Invented by Azzeddine Alaoui Mdeghri, which, coincidentally, is exactly the same noise people make when his device is used on them, the scalpel will 'revolutionise' conventional practices, claims the noble doctor.

It has to be pointed out that traditional circumcision in Casablanca usually is carried out by barbers. ('Short back'n sides please, Fred, and while you're there, lop it off will you?') The new scalpel will cauterise blood vessels, cut and stitch, causes no bleeding or pain, and requires no anaesthetic.

Surely this marvellous device could be donated to the listing division of the stock exchange and used as an incentive for timely declarations of those previous criminal convictions - though the idea of a crazed Herbert Hui wandering around shouting 'Off with their heads!' requires careful consideration.

Indeed, once the convictions have been declared, Lai See suggests the exchange purchases a product currently on sale in Japan.

Originally designed for dogs, the Illuminated Dog Collar could offer a useful time-saving device for companies considering who to appoint as a non-executive director.

Simply attach the bright red glowing collar to anyone with a criminal record and even the listing division should be able to spot him.

As for the ones glowing red, well, they're used to being collared.

Runway rates IF you thought credit rating agencies put a lot of work into assessing how credit-worthy a place is, you were wrong.

It transpires all this stuff about political and economic risk is so much bunkum.

Visiting global head of Standard & Poor's, Leo O'Neill, it was revealed all they do is assess a place by how safe they feel landing at its airport.

'Please finish Chek Lap Kok so you don't have to land at Kai Tak. We'll re-rate you - even consider an 'AAA',' the nervous executive quavered.

Next stop Sarajevo, rated triple ZZZ-.

Small wonder PROOF, as if it was needed, that bureaucracy stifles the spirit of any city has arrived on Lai See's desk, courtesy of Ken Bennett and the Kowloon Honkers.

These dukes of dixieland jazz have, for the past 12 years, entertained slurpers at Ned Kelly's Last Stand. In 1985, 1988 and 1990 they represented Hong Kong at the Sacramento jazz festival and went out of their way to cart over a bunch of promotional gimmicks for the Hong Kong Tourist Association (HKTA).

In fact, every time the band leaves here it contacts the HKTA and asks if there is anything it can do to help promote tourism.

Yesterday, the band departed for the island of Tunoe in Denmark for the annual jazz and folk festival.

As usual it approached the HKTA before going. Mr Bennett was told he could have a huge donation of 10 posters, and was welcome to buy some jackets for $100 each.

Walking home disconsolately, Mr Bennett saw the same jackets for sale in Tsim Sha Tsui for $79.

'We offered them something for nothing, but all we got was a big yawn,' said Mr Bennett.

With that in mind, here are some figures. Last year, tourism generated $64 billion for the territory.

The HKTA's annual income is $360 million and it is spending $70 million on its new worldwide advertising campaign with the catch line 'Wonders Never Cease'.

It is one of the ironies of governments that they can happily spend billions of dollars on something nobody gives a tinkers cuss about while dithering for ages about spending a couple of thousand bucks on something most people would support.

Indeed, wonders never cease.

Last call IT was with interest tinged with horror that we read a newspaper notice that Hongkong Telecom's staff canteen is applying for a liquor licence.

You might remember that Telecom's customers are becoming aware some of its charges can be cut 50 per cent by using other services, and that it is about to lose its monopoly.

White whine, sorry, wine, all round.

Does the management believe it might need somewhere to boost morale - or drown sorrows?