Race proves accommodation is a loaded issue

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 June, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 June, 1999, 12:00am

Remember the furore over hotel price discrimination? The one that left Tung Chee-hwa running around Japan on a damage-control mission? Well, it looks like history's repeating itself.

Partek Travel Service has been sending out faxes listing local hotel rates. No less than 10 of them cite different prices for different nationalities.

And this time, the discrimination is a lot closer to home.

In four of the cases, Hong Kongers are being charged extra for their Hong Kongness.

The Royal Plaza is priced at $520 for 'Asian', and $700 for 'Hong Kong'.

At the Kowloon Hotel, the listed price for 'Asians' is $500. But it's $600 for Japanese.

'Why?' Lai See asked the hotel.

'Why what?' the hotel counter-asked. 'We know nothing of this. We've never even heard of Partek Travel Service.' Ditto the Metropole. And the Royal Park.

Suddenly, these Partek people seemed cloaked in mystery.

So we called them and asked why they were building price ghettos.

'We've got nothing to do with it,' they said. 'We blame the hotels.' 'But,' said Lai See, 'the hotels blame you.' Lies-all-lies, said the travel people. 'The hotels are giving you answers that are not true.' So both sides vigorously protest their innocence. But talk is cheap.

Unless you're from Japan, in which case it comes with a 20 per cent surcharge.

Americans are a bunch of mental cripples with vulgar taste.

We know this for a fact. The North Korean News Agency told us, so it must be true.

The illuminating news flash popped up yesterday amidst the news service's breaking bulletins.

Headlined 'Ideological Poisoning', it informed readers: 'The bourgeois way of life is just like strong narcotics which depraves and degenerates the society and people,' says the official daily Rodong Sinmun in a signed article.

The article goes on: 'The capitalist way of life that paralyses the people's sound consciousness and noble spiritual and moral trait is, above all, like narcotics which makes them mental cripples.

'Children's murder of their parents for a petty amount of money is common place in the United States.

'The American way of life is that it stimulates people's vulgar taste and instinct, luring them into a dissolute life, and thus reduces them to loafers and idlers.

'It is also the ideological poison . . . that makes people deformed and benighted. Particularly, the bourgeois way of life makes people an animal-like being.' How unfortunate.

This very morning, a truce team will meet with a trio of North Koreans to try to settle the North-South naval stand-off.

At its head is an air force officer. A United States air force officer.

But fear not.

The North Koreans assure us that they are all open-minded people who wouldn't dream of pre-judging this deformed, benighted animal-like being who probably killed his own mother for pocket change.

Have you squished a bunny lately? Are you suffering from road-kill guilt? Well, suffer no more. Old long ears needn't have died in vain.

Now you can peel that rabbit from the pavement, stick it in a box of dry ice and ship it off to England.

It seems Bristol University is collecting two-dimensional rabbits.

'People can pick up all those rabbits that are just lying around dead or that have been run down on the roads and bring them in to us,' says Nancy Vaughan of the biology department. 'It's almost no effort at all.' The researchers peer inside stomachs and squint at reproductive bits to find out what's new in the ever-changing world of bunny biology.

The academics are asking members of the public to freeze any rabbits that they may have to keep around for a few days before bringing them in.

How novel.

We've heard of universities having fund-raising drives.

But this is the first time we've been asked to speed off for a hare-raising drive.