Alliance sets standard in democracy by proxy

FORMER Stock Exchange of Hongkong vice-chairman Philip Wong seemed to have virtually no support inside the Legco chamber for his pro-business bash-the-Governor motion on Wednesday.

But this was not true of outside the chamber.

Standing by the door were a motley group of people from the New Hongkong Alliance, who claimed to be there in support of Mr Wong's bid to reclaim prosperity.

The curious thing was that these were not the usual sort of people who clamour with banners outside the Legco building. Many were in their 50s and 60s, and some were not Chinese.

Looking particularly out of place were five or six Filipinos standing in the group. They did not look like outraged investors worried about their shares.

''Well, actually, we were told to come by our employers,'' one told a reporter.

They said their bosses, including one surnamed Lo, were personal friends of Mr Wong.

Make of this what you will.

Floral tribute WE see that the ferry ticket booth in Yung Shue Wan, Lamma, has now put up a sign saying it will not accept the newly designed $2 pieces, known as flower coins.

Now we can understand machines refusing to accept them, since mechanical objects are too dumb to realise that these are legal tender.

But human beings in ticket booths? Hongkong Ferry may wish to recall the fact that these coins are LEGAL tender before they strand people on Lamma island with pockets full of bauhinia coins.

What is the ferry company going to do when all Hongkong's currency has been changed over to the new Queen-free design? Refuse to accept money? Will Lamma residents have to offer live chickens or piglets at the booth instead? Overheard JOAN Howley of Executive Media Services faxed us the whole transcript of the Camillagate tape yesterday.

We found it depressing reading.

Depressing because it is so blushingly personal, and it is awful to think of the world's eyes on it.

For instance, Charles and Camilla make 41 exchanges just to say goodbye and put the phone down. If you can't remember what that feels like, ask a teenager.

Shortly after the story broke on Wednesday, Pacific Link of Wan Chai sent us a press release which said: ''Eavesdropping on telephone conversations, which is not difficult with analog mobile phones, is virtually impossible with the new digital mobile phone networks, according to Pacific Link Communications Ltd, which operates Asia's first digital cellular network.'' Yes, the business community in Hongkong reacts with its customary sensitivity and tactfulness, never stooping to exploit other people's misery.

Knocked around SEEN in the Ladies' Recreation Club at 8.30 am yesterday morning: The serenity of the men's changing room is suddenly disturbed by an urgent banging on the door by someone of the non-male persuasion.

A female voice demands to see ''Tony''.

Half-dressed and somewhat bedraggled, Tony presents himself before his wife. Despite the hammering, she appears calm and collected.

She says: ''I have some good news and some bad news.'' He waits.

''The good news is that I am still alive.'' The entire population of the men's changing room holds its breath to hear the next bit.

''The bad news is that I just backed the Mercedes into one of the pillars in the car park, and the back window dropped out.'' A deathly hush falls over the changing room as the men recall how this particular car is Tony's pride and joy.

Tony calmly replies: ''I'm glad you're alive.'' For a brief moment the age of chivalry re-emerged on Old Peak Road.

Credit to them PHONED the Bank of China's credit department yesterday to ask about their credit policy.

''Our policy is not to comment on our policy,'' said a spokesman.

Wow. That's SO helpful.

Wonder if he realises that by saying that, he has revealed a bit of their policy? We would like to make a wild guess and say that they key words to the Bank of China's policies are not ''Helpfulness'' or ''Transparency''.

Cold comfort THE bilingual Tony Giles of the Convention Centre rang the dial-the-weather service at 5.45 pm yesterday.

He got through to the Cantonese service on 18503 and was told it was ''14 degrees celsius''.

Wanting to double-check, he phoned again, but this time dialed 18501 and got the English service.

He was told it was ''15 degrees celsius''.

''What does this mean?'' asked Tony. ''Do Chinese people get a discount?'' Maybe the English one has bigger numbers because it's for tourists.

Staying ahead STEVE Marcopoto of Time Warner recalled a New York Post headline about a decapitated dancer found in a go-go club: ''Headless Body in Topless Bar''.