IT is often said that columnists hate being proved wrong, and will often conveniently forget comments which appear ill-timed. This is not always so. On this occasion, if the comments in Monitor in June 10 prove ill-timed, then it can only be a cause for optimism. We said that the biggest disappointment in the annual report from the Securities and Futures Commission was the two meagre sentences devoted to insider dealing. ''Outsiders may think it is so rife that nothing can be done,'' was the comment after another year had passed while the Insider Dealing Tribunal remained dormant. The remarks at the Legislative Council finance panel yesterday by acting SFC chairman Robert Gilmore that the SFC expected to call for the tribunal to be convened over the next couple of months, may mean this perception will change. Many problems, no doubt, lie ahead. The application by the SFC to start tribunal proceedings cannot be taken for granted until it is made. If the alleged insider is a minnow it may be a useful try-out for the legislation, passed in 1991 and never used - but do nothing to allay the feeling that small fish get fried while big fish swim free. And if the alleged insider is a big fish, lawyers may find holes in the net big enough for even the worst shark to swim through. The process is unusual in Hongkong in that it takes the form of a tribunal, with no right of silence and has the main aim of public censure and repayment of profits. If this system leaves a smell of rough justice then there will be an awkward choice of waiting for months, or possibly years, to see how other cases work - or scrapping the system after just a single problem. There is also the awkward issue of costs. Although the SFC is embarrassingly overloaded with cash, with a balance of about $300 million, the judicial review of the last insider dealing case had four Queen's Counsel flown in from London, and any taipan who feels unhappy at the tribunal will almost certainly want to follow the same route. No doubt those who feel the SFC is trying to destroy the spirit of the local market will use any problem to push their political case. But every other serious stock market has complicated, messy insider dealer cases. One of our own is proof that Hongkong is an emerged rather than emerging market.