Mobile Telecom Networks - due to list on the Growth Enterprise Market today - has no doubts about Hong Kong's shrewd investing public. It has allocated a mere three hours for potential shareholders to browse its prospectus before the placement ends. The prospectus will be released at 9am. The placement closes at noon. A total of 180 precious minutes to wade through all those pages and consider the implications of this particular investment. The mobile data-solutions provider will offer 110 million shares with an offer price of 30 HK cents per share, with the aim of raising HK$33 million. It could be that the company is banking on the 7.3 per cent stake held by Hutchison Whampoa unit Culturecom to convince potential investors to snap up the shares without bothering to read all the boring words and numbers. Or that GEM investors are a seasoned, discerning bunch. Never mind 'buyer beware'. Buyer, don't blink. SLAB HAPPY It is reassuring to see Hong Kong's legislators girding their loins in order to quiz the government on matters of great significance and urgency. Like pavements. The Legco chamber's Q&A session turned to concrete this week as the government was grilled on the use of precast paving slabs for pavement surfaces. Legislator Choy So-yuk asked all the formidable questions. 'Just how many pavement surfaces have been covered with said precast slabs over the past two years, and at what cost to society?' More importantly, 'How do they remove the weeds growing along the slits of these paving slabs?' For those of you who have not yet slipped into a deep coma, the answer is about 370,000 square metres worth and the pricetag was HK$190 million - here lies the only interesting part. Weeds are removed manually. And no, not a peep from them about what a precast slab actually is. LEGAL CHALLENGE Beauty chain Rainbow International Holdings must be going for a world record. It has entered a veritable abyss of lawsuits. You may recall in a previous column Lai See mentioned the fact that it failed to even pay the cleaning bill. But at least the company is not discerning over its selection of non-payments. Add the taxman to its list. To date, there have been two winding up petitions, 12 writs, 42 small claims, 11 labour tribunal claims and the latest: a demand for outstanding profits tax. The grand sum involved so far is HK$11.31 million. And the company was suspended on April 17 because an announcement is pending in relation to the disposal of existing shares by the controlling shareholder. Not because it only has HK$2.42 million cash in the bank. You do the maths. POWER PLAYS A powerful coincidence may suggest that both CLP Holdings and Hongkong Electric are about to light up our lives with their softer, more caring sides. Both have enlisted headhunters to fill top public relations posts. Irving Koo Yee-yin is departing as CLP's group marketing and corporate relations director and sources at Hongkong Electric say a similarly senior post is to be filled. Different headhunters, presumably. The two power companies try hard to win the public over but cannot escape pervading criticism of the regulatory regime which lights up their profits. This scheme of control - otherwise known as 'build more, charge more and earn more' - expires in 2008. A nasty alternative is not what they want, so what better time to aggressively court public opinion? The bright sparks. THE ILL BILL Civil servants are unwell. According to a new director of audit report, they racked up 682,000 days of sick leave in 2001. An average of 4.8 days are taken by each sickee, up 20 per cent from the previous year. The cost to taxpayers in terms of staff costs? HK$718 million. The government is officially bad for your health.