Singapore harbours designs on our port crown

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 March, 2000, 12:00am

We should all be proud. After losing our crown to a rival, Hong Kong has wrested the sceptre from the usurper's grasp.

For a while there, things were looking black. But now, we've regained our crown, and can once again hold our heads high.

Proud to be Hong Kongers.

Proud to be number one.

Proud to live in The World's Busiest Container Port.

News of this status reached us a few days ago, courtesy of Government Information Service.

The Secretary for Economic Services proclaimed we won last year's title by having more than 16.2 million teu pass through our ports (in case you're not hip to the latest cargo lingo, teu means 20-foot equivalent units).

This feat, we were informed, 'brings Hong Kong back to the number one position as the world's busiest container port'.

But before you start weeping proud tears and popping champagne corks, there's something you should know.

It seems the ousted Singaporeans refuse to step aside gracefully. They have apparently branded us liars and tried to reclaim the title for their own.

We saw it all in an Agence France-Presse story yesterday.

'Singapore, home to the world's busiest container port, is to launch a range of initiatives to promote its role as an international maritime centre, a minister said,' it said.

The fiends. It's a classic case of Busy-Container-Port-Envy.

But the affront doesn't end there. The AFP report goes on to say that 'Singapore handled 15.9 million 20-foot-equivalent-unit containers last year, compared with Hong Kong's 15.75 million teu in 1999.' Where did those Singaporeans get that lower figure? Something here just doesn't add up.

Maybe they conveniently forgot to factor in Hong Kong's brisk trade in America-bound, smuggled human cargo.

Congratulations to the British Foreign Office.

Their Web site just won the coveted 'Best Government Web Site' award from the Government Internet Forum & E-Envoy.

Naturally, the department is duly proud, and trumpets the victory on its home page. Not literally of course, because there's no audio. A photo and written announcement documents the achievement.

Now Lai See isn't trying to belittle the award or anything. But we were a little thrown by the choice of judges.

The winner, a press release tells us, was picked by an 'expert panel', made up of representatives from four different bodies, among them Internet magazine and the World Wide Web Consortium.

No surprises there. Confusion didn't set in until we saw the fourth organisation on the list. Try as we might, Lai See just couldn't picture their judging process.

But then, we've never met the site experts of the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

It's been a while since Lai See caught up on the goings on in North Korea. So yesterday, we decided to drop in on their official news service and find out what they're up to.

Apparently, each and every citizen is 'shaking with burning hatred against the US imperialist ogres'.

So it looks like we haven't missed much. These latest vibrations were caused by American plans to erect a monument to their GIs on South Korean soil.

Still, not all the news was bad. For example, one top piece of investigative journalism was headlined 'DPRK Has Rosy Future'.

We're informed that General Secretary Kim Jong-il is responsible for the optimistic outlook.

The North Korean leader was revealed to be 'an unprecedented great master of creation' who has 'performed so great exploits on behalf of the times and humankind as an unprecedentedly great master of creation'.

But wait, there's more.

'Unimaginably high is the speed at which he creates new things,' the news service reports.

'Whatever he creates is of global significance. He creates the best things of great value not only at present but in the distant future of mankind.

'He has performed so great exploits on behalf of the times and humankind as an unprecedentedly great master of creation.' Guess he doesn't believe in wasting his immense talents creating boring, mundane stuff - like food for instance.