WTO deal just the ticket for mainland scalpers
Today's quiz: Which celebrity's sold-out shows boasted the most expensive tickets? A) Celine Dion.
B) Michael Jackson.
C) Kenny G.
D) Long Yongtu.
If you guessed one of those first three, you clearly underestimate the drawing-power of economic treaty negotiators.
Fans of Beijing's top World Trade Organisation guy were willing to part with 2,500 yuan (about HK$2,325) a ticket to see their hero, live and in person, droning on about the implications of WTO membership.
The victorious chief negotiator has spent the last few days flitting about Guangzhou seminars and holding forth on the significance and implications of the Sino-US agreement.
The first batch were held Wednesday and Thursday and sponsored by the Guangdong Trade Promotion Commission.
It cost 1,500 yuan per ticket to attend, but demand for the 400 tickets so far exceeded supply that scalpers were nabbing 2,500 yuan for tickets.
Friday found him regaling another breathless audience in Sun Yat-sen memorial hall. That one was sponsored by the Guangdong Provincial Government, packed in 3,000 people, and cost 800 yuan a head.
Even members of the press had to pay to get in. When we asked why the speech was so pricey, a conference organiser said this: 'Whether it's expensive or not depends . . . if you buy a ticket it means you think it's worth the price.' Friday's take alone totalled well over 2 million yuan. And that money's destination is cloaked in mystery.
'It's a business secret,' said the organiser.
All very murky. Still, one thing is clear.
When it comes to WTO talks, the mainland isn't just seeking admission.
It's charging it.
A new heroine is coming to Hong Kong.
We've just seen her picture.
This woman has power. This woman has courage.
This woman has rolling luggage.
Yes, it's the 'Discovery Bay Neo Lady of the Millennium'.
The spooky little community is holding a competition to find her.
On the flier promoting the contest, a smiling stewardess tows rolling luggage past an aerial photo of Discovery Bay.
The contest is only open to flight attendants and ground crew.
Here's what the judges are looking for.
'Independence. Determination. Courage. Zest. The search has begun for the extraordinary lady who possesses these qualities.' To display these attributes, applicants are asked to provide a head photo and a full-body shot.
There's more than one winner. In addition to the coveted crown of 'Discovery Bay Neo Lady of the Millennium', there is also 'Discovery Bay Most Attractive Neo Lady of the Millennium'. Then there's 'Ultima II Neo Lady of Perfect Skin'.
For the ugly, there's also 'Discovery Bay Best Crisis Management Neo Lady'.
In light of the recent air tragedy, we think the Neo people should consider rewording their final message to airline crew: 'If you have what it takes, take the plunge!' Mideast Mercantile just sent us a list of 'Handy Work-related Phrases'.
Lai See thought these ones sounded the most useful: Ahhh . . . I see the cock-up fairy has visited us again.
I don't know what you're problem is, but I'll bet it's hard to pronounce.
How about never? Is never good for you? I'm already visualising the duct tape over your mouth.
You are validating my inherent mistrust of strangers.
The fact that no-one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist.
I'm not being rude. You're just insignificant.
I like you. You remind me of when I was young and stupid.
Why me? I just wander from room to room.
I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to worship me.
Yes, I am an agent of Satan, but my duties are largely ceremonial.
It might look like I'm doing nothing but at the cellular level I'm really quite busy.
Some day, we'll look back at this, laugh nervously and change the subject.