Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang and Democratic Party leader Martin Lee Chu-ming definitely would not. Professional footballer Dale Tempest might, while actress Coco Kung Suet-fa says she would if the price was right. If you were hosting an extra special dinner party and hoped to have someone who could lend gravitas to the evening or a bubbly personality to liven things up - for a fee - who might you expect to turn up? A distinguished civil servant like Chan or an upright politician like Lee might regard a monetary contribution as being too crass for words. 'The Chief Secretary has not attended any private functions/parties in return for a fee,' Chan's press office sniffed. Lee's assistant said the legislator has never (and will not) participated in such activities - not even to raise funds for his political party. Yet in this money-driven society where people's face light up at the sight of the dollar sign, such an invitation should be irresistible to most, shouldn't it? Wrong. The picture is different overseas. In Britain, if you belong to the exclusive Premier Club, which has close links with the Conservative Party, Prime Minister John Major will lend his presence to your party for two hours for GBP100,000 (HK$1.2 million). If Major is too stuffy for the occasion, then you can call on model-turned-singer Samantha Fox for GBP10,000, or actress Gillian Taylforth (Kathy from the TV soap EastEnders) for GBP1,000, in order to spice up your entertainment. But, perhaps surprisingly, many local personalities have considerable misgivings about taking such offers. If they are tempted, they are not admitting to it. Yip Wing-sie, resident conductor of the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, says she has never gone out of her way to socialise, not even if she were paid to do so. 'I had never been asked before,' she says. 'I think only pop stars or actors get this kind of invitation. Being well-known is one thing, to have mass appeal is another. 'Besides, if the party is boring, no matter how much you pay, it is still going to be boring. I would rather stay at home to look after my family than waste my time.' Even people in the entertainment business have reservations about invitations billed as private functions. 'My agent would seek a lot of information about the invitation, like where the function will take place, before accepting,' says Canto-pop singer Cass Phang Ling. 'If it is in a hotel with a proper stage and music equipment, then it is all right. [Performing for a small group] is no different from singing at an annual dinner for a company.' But what if her role is just to mingle with the guests? 'Then I don't think so,' Phang declares. 'I don't get paid for going out with people. I get paid for singing.' Actress Chingmy Yau Suk-ching agrees. Somehow, a private function has a tarnished image in her mind. 'If it were a private party, I would not know who would be there and what the function was about. At least at a ribbon-cutting ceremony, you are performing a job. But what is my role at a party?' the 27-year-old asks. 'If I were a singer, then I would sing. What is the point of showing up at a party, just sitting around to amuse other people? 'So what if they have the money to pay me? It makes me look unprofessional,' Yau says. Not everyone takes that attitude. 'Sure I would go, but they would have to pay me to attend,' says Kung, 48, who made headlines last year for being the territory's oldest contestant in a beauty pageant. 'I'd find out what the function is about. If it were proper and above board, why not? I'm in the entertainment business and part of my job is to entertain. 'Of course, I should be paid. I would need to buy new clothes for the event.' As for her charges, Kung says: 'You would have to contact my [agent] for my fee. But I would expect no less than $30,000.' Likewise, Dale Tempest says he has no qualms about attending a private party as long as he knows the people involved. Hong Kong is a place for making money and the part-time TV presenter will not pass up a good opportunity. And his asking price? 'I would say around $50,000,' he muses. As may be expected, celebrities, if they are willing to make a guest appearance at a private function, do not come cheap. For instance, actor Tony Leung Kar-fai reportedly expects between $60,000 and $100,000 to turn up at functions like prize presentation ceremonies.. According to one public relations company executive, this is reasonable. 'You have lesser-known names asking much more than that,' she says. That is one of the reasons why clubs and societies tend to invite experts from their own specialised fields rather than celebrities to their functions. The president of the Hong Kong Cat Fanciers Society, Sharon Chan, says she would love to invite showbiz personalities who are cat lovers to the society's annual cat show. But stars' charges usually make such invitations prohibitive. 'We have invited people like Matt Hackett and Greenstreet Kan before,' she says. 'But since we are a non-profit making body, we don't have the money to pay them. We would like to have Harry Wong from FM Select next March, we know he has a cat. 'Most guests have to come on a volunteer basis because we haven't got the funds to invite VIPs.' The Oriental Ceramic Society, on the other hand, sees no need to invite guests of honour just because they are famous. 'What we do is bring in the best speakers available from around the world,' explains society president William Heering. 'We don't invite celebrities, you can read about them in the funny pages of newspapers. And we don't invite senior government officials or VIPs, we can get on nicely without them. 'We don't kowtow to experts, we go for good lecturers and nice people.' Similarly, the gay activist group, Ten Per Cent Club, has its criteria for VIP guests. It invited liberal legislator Christine Loh Kung-wai to its 10th anniversary celebrations last month. Former chairman Michael Lai explains: 'We invited Christine Loh as she was one of the forces behind the anti-discrimination bill. We don't invite VIPs who have nothing to do with our cause.' Her attendance cost nothing. According to Vivian Chow, the director of Occasion - Events, Marketing and Productions Consultants, celebrities turn up for social functions because they want to and seldom for money. Unlike in Britain, she says, local stars do not come with price tags. 'The only people who may demand payment are those from the entertainment business.' The veteran public relations consultant says when it comes to the glitterati, attending private functions is not about money but the F words: face and favours. 'If [an ordinary person] who has no connections asks socialites to attend a private function [even if it's for a fee], of course they won't come. They would ask who is this person and why should I go,' Chow points out. 'They don't want your money, they are not paid to make you look good. But mostly they wouldn't come because you are a nobody.' Top of the people's list Gary Mak, clerk: I would like Chris Patten to come to my dinner because you don't get much chance to meet people like him. It would be nice if he brought along his pet dogs and three daughters. Don't you think his entire family looks cute? Selina Ho, civil servant: Anson Chan because of her remarkable achievements. She handles pressure and people pretty well. I think she will be a good guest because she is very knowledgeable and will be able to discuss matters that may not necessarily be her specialty. And she smiles a lot. Kevin Tse, auditor: Who I invite will depend on which friends I have at the dinner. If they are into sports, then I would ask a sportsman and if they like photography then I'd ask a prominent photographer. A TV actor is a safe bet for a mixed group because everyone would know who he or she is. Angela Sue, sales executive: Emil Chau Wah-kin (the singer). He is a funny person and I like his jokes and music. Some people think he is slightly showy but I think he is very down to earth. I would not mind inviting singers Jacky Cheung, Sally Yeh and Priscilla Chan either. I like the way they present themselves and I think they would be entertaining. Wong Hang-fong, journalist: Josephine Siao Fong-fong (the veteran actress) because of her humour and Lee Lai-shan for obvious reasons. Sophie Leung, administration manager: Initially, I thought of (Preparatory Committee member) Leung Chun-ying because he is young and around our age so I don't have to worry about a generation gap. I think my friends would like to share his thoughts and knowledge on current issues. But then the party would become too heavy. So on second thought, I would like to have pop singer Aaron Kwok Fu-shing around because he is full of energy and nice.