WANTED: MAYOR FOR autonomous city state. Must be politically experienced, non-Cantonese (mandatory), trusted by high-ups in Beijing, respected by world leaders, willing to undertake reform measures and able to cheer people up when required. Apply to election committee. What a pity that we held our latest 'election' for chief executive six months too early. If only we had waited a little longer we could have made our pitch to the best man for the job without even having to post this notice. Who could possibly be a better fit than Zhu Rongji as he retires from the premiership in Beijing? It might have taken some blandishments to attract him but it would hardly be a step down. He has already made that step down himself. We could certainly count on him to heed the patriotic appeal and the opportunity to crown his career with such a job. Please, sir, we need you. Mr Zhu was, of course, properly reserved in his answer when asked on Tuesday for advice on how to run Hong Kong. He said he had limited knowledge about Hong Kong and it was up to Tung Chee-hwa and the SAR administration, who were familiar with Hong Kong's situation, to do their jobs well. How kind of you, sir, to assume that Mr Tung is familiar with Hong Kong's situation. Many others of us here are not quite so certain. You may wish to note, however, that familiarity with Hong Kong is not a requirement anyway. Almost all the British governors who preceded Mr Tung got the job because it was Buggins's turn at the Foreign Office and I do not recall that any of them as much as paid a visit before arriving in their official capacity. It never did us any harm. We do not need the man in the top job to have his nose to the ground. He employs civil servants for that. It is the qualities in the job notice above, which we never posted, that we really require in a chief executive and you have showed us that you have them. We really should have asked you when we had the chance. Why, oh why, did we make our choice too early? And think of the other benefits you would bring us - a shoulders back bearing instead of a slouch, proper hair cut instead of that bog-brush appearance and I shall bet that you look the part in the back seat of a Rolls-Royce too. The last governor we had like that was Murray MacLehose and he was arguably the best we ever had. What is more, to those who might worry that you are a party apparatchik we can point out the complete absence of those Zimmer frame glasses that have proved once again to be a requirement for anyone joining the line-up on stage after a National People's Congress. The properly cut suit confirms it, very unpartylike. But just one thing, sir, should you ever decide to take up the job. It was kind of you to offer us the use of China's foreign reserves should we ever need them and to tell us that you yourself would be happy to buy SAR government bonds. Thanks, but no thanks. In the first place, it will be many years before our own reserves would no longer suffice to cover our fiscal deficit, even if it continues at its present level, and that is unlikely. It would be decades more before we would have to call on you to buy bonds that we could not sell to normal investors in such instruments. More than that, what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The national government is also running a steep and growing fiscal deficit, and the time may come when it also finds its finances strained. The precedent may eventually work the other way if we lean on the national government's reserves now. It does not appear very likely, I know, but let us not set that precedent anyway. We are better off here in Hong Kong if we keep our finances strictly separate. It is you we need, not your money.