CHEERING news from the Transport Department. About 74 per cent of those licensed to fling buses round corners, race them at bus queues, hurl passengers down the aisle and jerk them back up again are not qualified to drive in a more conventional sense. In the words of Acting Secretary for Transport Rafael Hui, who was explaining why holders of licences for 'vehicles of class 17 (public bus - franchised)' have to take another driving test before they can be let loose on a green or red minibus, 'most of the recruits entering these bus companies as franchised bus drivers started off as unqualified drivers and therefore do not hold any other licences'. Mr Hui also told Legco Transport Panel chairperson Miriam Lau that the bus companies were chronically short of around 150 drivers to run their services. Oddly, a number of her colleagues seemed to find this statistic reassuring. THE great British public's been writing to legislator Jimmy McGregor en masse. And the subject which has brought him more letters than any issue in his career? Why the fate of the pink dolphin, of course. 'This airport cannot be allowed to go ahead,' is the general tenor of the argument. 'Poor little things' . . . 'defenceless creatures facing extinction' . . . 'cruel Hong Kong government'. You know the sort of thing. Mr McGregor says he's been writing back, pointing out that in all his years in Hong Kong, he's never actually seen a dolphin. What he hasn't been telling Britain's greenies is how his view of the animal kingdom was indelibly coloured - also a greenish colour - by a childhood encounter with a llama. The Andean, not the Himalayan variety. It all happened on what was in those days still a politically correct visit to Edinburgh zoo. Young Jimmy watched for a while as the beast chewed the cud. Then, as any red-blooded boy would, he looked it in the face and chewed too. The llama, as any red-blooded llama would, looked him in the face and spat. THAT Cheung Man-kwong's a wicked tease, isn't he? And no respecter of age or status either. There they all were in the Constitutional Affairs Panel, quietly discussing whether university staff should have their pay docked in proportion to the amount of teaching time they spend in the Legislative Council, when out he came with it. Appointees to other bodies, said the Democratic Party stalwart, like China's Hong Kong Affairs Advisers, should have their Legco salaries adjusted to account for the time they devoted to other business. Well, as you can imagine, the Venerable Tu was furious. She, Elsie Tu, did not spend Legco time on her China advising business. Apart from two days in Beijing to accept the appointment she'd done it all in her own time. Other trips could be arranged on public holidays. 'It's not a fact . . . it's a lie,' she fumed, and demanded an apology. Mr Cheung's response did not entirely mollify her, it appears. 'I did not refer to any particular person when I made my statement,' he said. 'I only meant that all appointees to advisory committees such as the Education Commission or China's advisory bodies should have their salaries reviewed.' Ignore them, Elsie. They're only trying to provoke you. WHAT will Chinese movie-goers make of the latest, decadent, American blockbuster movie to hit their once-pure cinema screens? Officially, as the South China Morning Post reported yesterday, Arnold Schwarzenegger's True Lies was finally released in Shanghai and Beijing this week following a delay caused by the dispute with Washington over copyright piracy. But maybe a little local sensitivity added to the delay. Our China-watcher says he suspects many people will be attracted by what they will see as the title's ironic commentary on newspeak PRC-style. THOSE of us in the business of being first with the news may only have received our intimation of The Immortal's mortality on the evening of April 11. But it turns out China-linked businessmen had heard the previous afternoon of Chen Yun's demise. We know this because nothing much happened on the stock market. It slipped 60 points in early trading on the Tuesday morning, only to claw its way back to within five points of the previous day's close by late afternoon. Hong Kong-based red capitalists had been told by their mainland associates to do one of two things: buy . . . or sell. The sell orders came from those mainlanders who believed the world would see an added element of instability on the Chinese political scene. Instructions to buy came from those who thought the world would greet the death of the arch-conservative patriarch as a good omen for reform, and hence for business. We expect PRC-related businessmen in Hong Kong will be the first to learn of Deng Xiaoping's death too. Watch out for normal trading.