During the week in which April Fool's Day came and went, it seemed more than appropriate that the Government revealed it was selling off a host of units with a significant problem. The units, in a development in Kowloon Bay, have toilets with flushing difficulties - but this problem is just the tip of the iceberg. The real issue with these flats is not merely that their loos don't flush but they also emanate a rather strong aroma. To put it bluntly: they stink. Even Government Property Administrator Albert Lai Kwok-ying conceded this week that the smells in some of the flats could be classified as 'very foul'. So foul, in fact, that trainee police officers and civil servants have refused to live in them. And the problem is difficult to fix. So difficult, in fact, that the Government investigated the option, but decided it was not worth the effort because of the numerous permissions that would have been involved. So, what does the Government do with 17 flats that Hong Kong's upstanding civil servants don't want to touch with a barge pole? Why, it puts them up for public tender, of course! There is money to be made - in excess of $20 million on our rough calculations, in fact - and if the flats were to lie idle, the Government's humble property representatives would be accountable to the Audit Department. It seems the principle for any sellers, even the Government, in free-market Hong Kong is clear-cut: be totally frank about all of the problems with the flats, then nobody can blame you if they hang around like a bad smell (excuse the pun). As Mr Lai said: 'We have to do everything above board in this case.' He added that he went into the whole affair with 'a very clear conscience'. 'We're doing the same thing as any private household would do,' he asserted. Right, Albert. But it still strikes us that you might need some assistance in the marketing area to help you offload the fragrant flats. And this is where Lai See thinks it may just be able to offer some help. In the first place, it might be an idea to do some targeting of the people you get to inspect the flats. Perhaps you could try to limit inspection to people who sell produce with extremely powerful odours, such as stinky tofu or durian. These people have become immune to even the most pungent smells, and coping with an aromatic bathroom would therefore become a non-issue. Another possible alternative for the Government property sales force could be to be a touch selective in the wording of their advertisements for the flats. The general gist of the ads could be along the lines of: 'Experience the fragrances that have made Hong Kong great in this spacious apartment.' Alternatively, a touch of positive reinforcement via the naming of the buildings in which the aromatic flats are contained might not go astray. Maybe calling the buildings something with favourable connotations - like Flower Towers, Rose House or Fragrant Mansions - might be a good start. There is always the option of trying to eliminate the odours altogether. Perhaps the Government could build a Buddhist temple near the units. The amount of incense burning this would no doubt prompt could more than drown out the smell of the flats' amenities. As a more conservative solution, the Government officials could simply start a new flower market in the same area. However, Lai See would like to see a more radical strategy altogether. Our favoured suggestion? Turning the flats into a hotel, as part of the Hong Kong Tourist Association's brand new campaign to promote the SAR. Our humble tourist authorities are, after all, promoting Hong Kong as the City of Life - and these flats seem to have 'life' in abundant quantities. Just think. At our luxurious Bog Hotel, you could enjoy the quintessential aroma of Hong Kong without even having to leave your room. Yes, the smells of the flats should not be disguised, but savoured in all their unadulterated glory. Just think of all the spin-off possibilities this would create for Hong Kong. We would suddenly be front-runners to host every seminar going on public conveniences. Authorities present for such seminars would even have the opportunity to put their expertise into prompt action. Our bet is that within a couple of years, the Bog Hotel would rival the Peak, Stanley Market and the Star Ferry as one of Hong Kong's leading tourist attractions. After all, in our City of Life, what better can you give the lay tourist than a whiff of the action?