Consumer magazine tracks city's ills, stars

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 February, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 February, 2010, 12:00am

What are the worst hazards faced by Hong Kong consumers? Some answers may be found in sales of the venerable Choice, the Consumer Council magazine whose 400th issue was published yesterday.

Launched in 1976, Choice holds up a mirror to issues from the city's past - and present. Leaky condoms posed quite a headache for people in 1988, when the 142nd issue, featuring the topic, became a best-seller. More than 70,000 copies were sold, council chief executive Connie Lau Yin-hing said.

Appearing on the cover was former lawmaker Peggy Lam Pei Yu-dja. It was not easy to find cover girls for condom stories, Lau said.

Average sales are now 30,000 copies per issue, and people can find some articles on the council website.

Another memorable issue was the 110th, published in 1985, with since-deceased actor Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing appearing on the cover. 'It was the first time that a celebrity appeared on Choice,' Lau said.

There were heated debates about whether a celebrity approach should be adopted, she said, but it was approved because popular idols would make the magazine more attractive.

Since then many singers and actresses have followed: Jackie Chan, Maggie Cheung Man-yuk and Isabella Leong Lok-sze. The stars all volunteer, and are not paid a cent by the council. They even apply their own make-up.

The second issue of Choice carried a picture of Cheung's niece, Ayesha Macpherson - then about 10 years old - on the cover with her twin sister. How time flies: Ayesha is now the wife of Professor Lawrence Lau Juen-yee, vice-chancellor of Chinese University.

In 1976, the magazine cost HK$1. Now it costs HK$12.