Hank The Bank flat out accommodating a deal

AMERICAN expats in Tokyo are escaping the Japanese downturn by fleeing to Hongkong. Several of these have brought an incredibly powerful secret weapon with them: The Relocation Deal.

One banker, let's call him Hank The Bank, duly arrived in Hongkong and was taken to the Strawberry Hill development at the Peak to be shown what was on offer.

These apartments were renting for $70,000 to $80,000 a month.

The agent knew a sucker when he saw one. (''American banker? Waaaah!'') He took the newcomer into a $70,000 Strawberry Hill apartment and quoted the rent at $150,000 a month.

Staggering? Yes. But many of these Tokyo expats have been on deals which include about $200,000 a month for housing.

That's what high-class executive housing in Japan's capital city costs.

Hank, fancying himself as a cool negotiator, decided to be really tough.

''How about $140,000?'' he offered, sticking out his square jaw and frowning.

''DONE!'' screamed the agent, whipping out the lease. ''Sign here. Ho yeh!'' Several Hanks have arrived in Hongkong recently, and they are distorting the market, pricing the territory's executives out of house and home.

We shall not name Hank, to save his shame.

Nor will we name the US bank which has sent out juniors in their 20s to Hongkong with housing budgets of $60,000 a month each.

No wonder the US has a recession while Hongkong thrives.

Life's a breeze AFTER a couple of nights in a Tokyo hotel recently, Ross Evans of Fontworks, Wan Chai, noticed the inscription on his Hitachi television set: ''For Personal Life Every Day it Brings Fresh Wind.'' ''Until then I thought the hotel was having problems with its plumbing system,'' said Ross.

Maybe the slogan was originally intended for Hitachi brand baked beans.

Foot in court GOODS have been literally ''walking'' from the shelves of Marks and Spencer again.

Anne Parton of Media magazine saw a pair of well-used black court shoes, size 6, on a shelf in the ladies' shoes section of the Pacific Place branch.

Clearly a thief had tried on a pair of shoes, decided she liked them, and put her own manky old shoes on the shelf in their place.

''Unwary shoppers were pulling them out, grimacing, and then stuffing them back on the shelf guiltily,'' said Anne.

This technique has possibilities for cheeky thieves. Guards at the Tower of London had better watch out for Hongkong visitors arriving wearing grungy-looking old crowns.

Big cash call NOW we will not tolerate any schoolboyish tittering while reading this item, so compose yourselves.

Architect Charles Brown of Pollocks Path, the Peak, came across a shocking story in the Cambodia Times.

''Bigger Dongs For Vietnamese'' said the headline.

Rumours have been sweeping Vietnam of a devaluation of their currency, the dong. The re-rating will fuel inflation, say rumour-mongers.

What is really happening is that financial ministers in Hanoi have arranged for the printing of new, larger denomination dong banknotes.

This follows complaints that companies doing business there are having to pay relatively small bills with sackfuls of dong banknotes.

The new larger dong notes are 20,000 dong and 50,000 dong. The largest of these is worth HK$37.

It must be a nightmare being a headline-writer working on currency articles about the dong's ups and downs.

Wei of the Lord HONGKONG families traditionally burn fake money and paper copies of goods to bless their ancestors at this time of year. The items burned allegedly ''rematerialise'' in heaven for use by the dear departed.

Among the cardboard items seen being burnt during the Ching Ming festival this weekend: a hi-fi/karaoke set, a video tape recorder, and numerous mobile telephones.

Heaven ain't what it used to be.

'Twas brillig KLINGON, the guttural non-language spoken by the aliens on Star Trek, is catching on in America.

The Klingon Dictionary (Pocket Books, US$10) has been published, and so has a tape called Star Trek: Conversational Klingon (Simon & Schuster Audioworks, US$11).

Ready to speak Klingon, Terran? Here are some handy phrases to get you started. Spit out the words harshly, and keep a tissue nearby.

What do you want? (standard Klingon greeting) NuqneH (pronounced nook-NEKH).

Do you speak Klingon? tlhIngan Hol Dajatlh'a' (TLIngan khol da-jatl-A).

Activate the transport beam! jol yIchu' (jol yi-CHOO).

No problem! qay'be' (ky-BE).

Beam me aboard! HIjol (khiJOL).

Very good! Well done! majQa' (maj-KKHA).

Your ship is a garbage scow. veQDuj 'oH DujlIj' e' (vekkh-DOOJ okh DOOJ-lij-E).

We will meet in the cocktail lounge. tachDaq maghom (TACH-dak ma-GHOM) Animal! Ha'DIbaH (KHA-di-bakh).