WHEN it comes to elections, the Sino-American Trade Development Council seems to be somewhat more Sino than American. Read this carefully: 'The chairman of the Sino American Trade Development Council, Washington DC, Mr Robert E Goodman, today announced the election [of] Ms Catherine Chiu Luen-lai as a business representative to serve on [the] important bilateral SATDC trade and investment committee for 1995-1996.' Given that the SATDC, despite its grand name, only ever seems to consist of chairman Bob and a few of his friends, we rang him and asked him how many people voted in the election. He said the 'election' consisted of him phoning her, chatting a bit, and inviting her on to the committee. That certainly isn't how they do elections in the United States. Here's another surprise: the SATDC's statement announcing the 'election' said Ms Chiu had 'over 10 years experience in the publishing, finance and trading field' listing former employers such as Standard Chartered Bank. What it didn't say is that she worked as a secretary. Nothing wrong with secretaries, of course - we've often thought that the easiest way for many firms to double their profits would be let the secretaries run the business and the bosses do the typing - but this does seem odd. We tried to ring Catherine herself but who should return the call but Aaron Nattrass, the chap who was pursued by the ICAC for alleged immigration fraud while also running a correspondence law college. 'We're not saying that 25,000 people voted for her,' explained Aaron, who says he's an SATDC member. ' 'Election' means promotion.' If Chris Patten had only understood this we could have saved a lot of trouble. Getting high A BANKER swears this tale is true. He also claims that he wasn't the twit involved. A customer rang the bank and asked for his shares to be valued. So a manager in the private banking department pulled out the portfolio details and that day's newspaper, got out the calculator on the share price pages, and sent the figure off. The customer was pleased but slightly sceptical, so asked the head of department to check it. It turned out the banker had read the wrong column from the share pages. Instead of reading the closing price, he'd read all the prices from the column entitled 'Year's High'. Sweet dreams FANCY making $430 million overnight? That's what venerable property tycoon Ng Teng-fong did on Tuesday. Old Mr Ng has entrusted the management of his firm Sino Land to his son Robert Ng, and young Robert announced a spin-off of the hotels division which pushed the shares from $4.65 to $5.10 overnight. Well, once this increase trickled through the various holding firms, Mr Ng's effective holding of millions of Sino shares rose dramatically. Even as he slept, he made on paper $420,000 a minute or $7,000 a second. On the rack A MILD concession to making the justice system understandable to ordinary people can be found in the entrance to the Supreme Court building in Admiralty in the form of a rack of leaflets about the law. Usually, the leaflets are all about the courts' performance pledge, full of stuff promising to get a case into court within 200 years of the action starting and the like. But over the past few weeks, a legal eagle reports that the contents of the rack have focused on the stressful nature of the run-up to Chinese New Year. It's chock full of leaflets entitled 'How to apply: divorce.' They make it sound so easy. Or would some faceless court official be trying to put ideas into someone's head? Coining it in Never mind the land auction's effect on property prices, the real economic issue of the day is the shortage of $10 notes for lai see packets. Bob Rossi of Tyco is just one of the several people who've been complaining of the need to put $20 notes in their packets this year because putting a coin in a packet is traditionally unlucky. 'As I am not aware of $10 coins ever having been minted before I assume this ancient superstition is about 30 days old.' So if anyone's got any idea how to help battlers against inflation - don't call them skinflints - like Bob, we'd be interested to know. He's right about there never being $10 coins before. But in the 1970s, commemorative $1,000 coins were issued which were legal tender. Bet no one would regard them as unlucky in a lai see packet.