An idiot's guide to building bridges

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 March, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 March, 1996, 12:00am

After all the technology that went into the Tsing Ma Bridge - concrete that lasts 120 years, state-of-the-art computer-aided design techniques and such like - the bridge builders went back to basics to ensure the last deck segment was the right way round when it was positioned for raising into place.

Chalked in big letters at one extreme were the words 'Tsing Yi end'. Of course, the tell-tale instructions were painted over before the media arrived for the big event yesterday.

But by that time our spies had already reported back.

International broadcasters and programmers were taken aback this week by the address to the 1996 Pan-Asia Satellite and Cable TV Conference.

'Hong Kong has a transparent and fair regulatory system which sets out clearly what is expected of broadcasters in terms of programme standards and practices, and then leaves them to get on with running their business,' said Deputy Secretary for Recreation and Culture Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan.

Wait a minute . . . wasn't this the representative of a government which had just shelved a Broadcasting Bill, while it worked out what would be acceptable to China? Wasn't this the same Mrs Lau whose government had just broken its promise to open up the pay-TV market to competition? Wasn't it Hong Kong which continued to decide which satellite broadcaster should be allowed its own uplinking licence and which must pay Hong Kong Telecom to uplink programmes on its behalf? 'They've just killed Hong Kong as a regional broadcasting hub - and now they're touting for business?' came a disgruntled cry from the back. The beneficiaries of that U-turn on pay-TV will be in the news again with a little ceremony this afternoon - but we're not sure how much of it they'll be showing on their own news.

We've received an invitation to a press conference.

The subject? Wharf Cable's 'new line-up for adult entertainment'.

To mark the event, the invitation pants excitedly, 'a table-dance performance which is currently taking place at Jai-Alai Show Palace in Macau, will be performed in the press conference'.

From the Corridors brings you only the wholesome stories.

There we were in the press gallery, quietly relishing the rhetorical flourishes and rapier wit of the Legislative Council debate on the 1996-97 budget.

Most of all, we were enjoying the clash between the Democrats, banned forever from the corridors of Special Administrative Region power, and the 14 legislators who sit on the Preparatory Committee as well as Legco.

'The Provisional Legislature should have a say in the next budget.' 'No, it shouldn't.' 'Should.' 'Shouldn't. You only want to get the provisional legislature involved, because you'll be sitting on it.' 'Yes, and you won't.' Suddenly, out of the blue, an American gentleman of Irish extraction sidled up to us and showed us his notebook.

'I think,' it said, 'the provisional legislature guys should be known as the 'Provos'.' 'As in the Irish Republican Army provisionals?' we asked, just to be sure.

'Yep,' he said.

'The terrorists who strike fear and loathing into the heart of British imperialists and their colonial lackeys everywhere?' we checked.

'Yep,' he said.

And off he sidled again.