EVERYONE loves a lottery, and if the prize is a Green Card allowing you to live and work in the US, it's the lottery of a lifetime.
Better still, it costs nothing to enter. Pinch yourself. You're not dreaming.
A representative from the US Consulate said yesterday that next year it was likely that for the first time, the visa lottery run annually by the US Government would contain a quota for people born in Hong Kong.
Unfortunately, this also means that the companies who annually take substantial fees for posing as immigration advisers - but in practice merely enter their clients in the lottery - are also like to turn up.
For instance, in Japan two years ago, thousands of people paid US$500 each to ''consultants'' who just entered them in the lottery.
Already, adverts are appearing in Hong Kong suggesting that the likely addition of Hong Kongers to the list of entrants hasn't been overlooked.
Next year's lottery will have about 55,000 Green Cards up for grabs, and all you'll have do to enter is send your name, address and place of birth to a PO box in Virginia.
It's done by country of birth, and each has a quota, with the quotas for Latin America being the largest and those for Asia being smallest.
The first year, in which multiple applications were allowed, drew forth 20 million applications.
Piled on top of each other, they would ascend 20 kilometres, impeding even high-altitude jet flights.
Changing the system to one application per head reduced the mail to a mere million.
The number of visas set aside for people born in Hong Kong is likely to be pretty small, anyway.
So don't pick up that phone. As yet, there is no PO box number, quota or anything else, and neither Lai See nor the US Consulate will know anything of value to would-be entrants for months.
Of course, the real winners in all this are the postal authorities.
And there's an interesting comment on human nature here. After three years of offering the golden passports to the world's richest economy, the lottery has yet to generate as many applicants as the Craig Shergold chain letter has generated get-well cardsfor a kid with cancer.
Slapped wrists IF you want to send a company Christmas card to Dickson Lai Kin-sang, you may not have his new address.
Dickson, remember, was the chap who used to work for Wardley James Capel (Far East), but was found by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) to have made $3.2 million for himself through a series of improper transactions.
The SFC found that he had acted as a middle agent for stocks and bonds, passing them to James Capel clients at higher prices.
He is no longer at James Capel, but if you send his Christmas card to Goodwill International, parent of stockbroker Goodwill Securities, he should get it.
His secretary at Goodwill International says he is working as a ''consultant'' for the company.
Incidentally, Dickson's penalty for skimming $3.2 million from James Capel clients was to have his licence revoked for five years.
Meanwhile in the High Court earlier this week, an unemployed 23-year-old man who helped smuggle a stolen BMW worth less than $500,000 got 21/2 years in prison.
Clairvoyants WANT to know how the index will close today? Or which companies will announce big plans? Or what President Bill Clinton is about to announce? No problem. Just look in the December 19 issue of the Asian Wall Street Journal, which was published on December 9.
That paper's marketing staff have been doing a readership survey for the past two weeks, sending out copies of the paper and asking readers to mark which adverts they read.
According to the covering letter, ''The enclosed paper is a duplicate copy of the December 19, 1993, issue of the Asian Wall Street Journal''.
An informant gladly sent the covering letter but, not surprisingly, they refused to send the issue with it.
Unfortunately, the AWSJ doesn't do racing results. Punting Eurodollar and propane futures based on a day or two's inside knowledge would be no substitute.
Party terrorists HOW to spoil a Christmas party. The Cathay Pacific unions yesterday evening publicly announced that they were rejecting the company's pay offer, opening up the possibility of another messy strike like last year's.
When the news broke, where were the legendary Cathay image-builders, who worked so hard on damage control during the cabin attendants' strike? They were sipping beer and whooping it up festive-style at the house of their boss Nick Rhodes.
They had thought - perhaps hoped - the unions wouldn't say anything until this morning.
Backfire BARRISTER Alan Hoo has won his second apology in 18 months from Target, the eccentric daily news-sheet.
Yesterday's issue carried a wildly ungrammatical apology for ''a number of extremely serious and horrendous allegations and imputations'' in the Uncle Wah column of July 19 this year.
The apology, also run as a paid advertisement in at least one other newspaper, says Target and its editor ''wholeheartedly and unreservedly apologise to Mr Alan Hoo QC'' and ''the said allegations and imputations are completely untrue and unfounded''.
As we remarked when Alan filed a writ over this matter last month, the original article does not mention him at all.
Just testing TODAY is both Red Nose Day and Dress Down Day, and the logo above has been adjusted to take this into account.
On the subject of adjustments in this newspaper, on the back page of the Airport Update yesterday there was a picture of Central as it will look when the airport reclamation is finished.
The picture appeared reversed, the Bank of China being to the west of the Hongkong Bank HQ, instead of to the east.
A large number of people rang to point out that we seemed to have made the same howler as that made by the Institute of Civil Engineers, whose error we joked about on Tuesday, with many of the callers being jubilant civil engineers.
Actually, the picture was printed as we intended. But the caption-writer forgot to tell readers to hold the paper up to the light and look at the picture from behind. Honest.