NOW LET ME see if I have this straight. If you originate price-sensitive information and tell only a few people, it is a disciplinary matter for the stock exchange. If you receive such information and tell only a few people, it is a matter for the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). Do not ask me to make sense of this. The line of demarcation between the exchange and the SFC could not be fuzzier if they were warring states in the Sahara rather than just warring branches of the Hong Kong civil service. But this is apparently where the line is drawn at the moment. An investment analyst working for Goldman Sachs is reprimanded by the SFC for passing on a profit warning given by New World Development but, where New World Development itself is concerned, the SFC washes its hands. 'You are only watching part one of a story,' said SFC executive director of enforcement Alan Linning. 'Part two is handled by HKEx [Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing].' Good, Mr Linning, we shall watch for it then ... and watch ... and watch some more, shades of that well-known next instalment of a story, Harry Potter and the Long Wait for Book Five. Perhaps the exchange will get around at some point to its usual letter of criticism. Meanwhile, may I ask whether anyone who got this privileged information dealt on it to make some money just before New World's share price tanked? If so, this would constitute the much bigger offence of dealing on inside information, would it not? Yet, I have heard of no insider dealing tribunal called in this case. Am I really to take it that no one who got the news took advantage of it? And am I really to believe that only one person passed the news on? Good information is normally a disproof of Albert Einstein's dictum that nothing travels faster than the speed of light. In the stock market, it certainly does. Did only one person who received the news say anything and is it really true that all the others kept quiet? I sometimes have the impression, and I am not the only one, that the SFC goes for the soft targets. It gets those who are gettable and those who are not quite so naive as to be gettable get off. The SFC professes to be out for big game fish but it actually sets its hooks for minnows. Prove me wrong, Mr Linning. DID YOU SEE that picture in yesterday's paper of a line of cars on a slow drive near the border to protest the introduction of a $100 cross-border departure tax on vehicles? Pricey cars, top-of-the-line Mercedes models, and pricey registration numbers too, first one 7333 and China registration 7888, next one 3999 and the one after that 3328. It seems, however, that your lucky numbers were not enough to avoid misfortune in this instance, fellas. How wretched. Poverty is around the corner for you indeed when the price of any of those cars you own, leave alone what you paid for the registration numbers, is a mere 15,000 times the cost of a border crossing. You may rest assured that I have all the sympathy for you that your complaint deserves. Good one, Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung. Double that tax. AND, ON THE same page, we had housing, planning and lands secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung confessing he is all at sea about what to do on land - 'We all know that the property market has dropped severely and we have grave concerns about this. On the issue of how to make the market more prosperous, I know everyone wants to see it rise again but we need to discuss how to make it happen. We will consider whatever proposals come before us.' Ah, just a moment, Mr Suen. Rub those two brain cells together and see if you can get a spark out of them. Has it occurred to you that some people may not want prices up, people who are still hoping to buy or people who think higher prices will mean they pay higher rents? Well, well, well, what a revelation. Surprising is it not, what happens when that particular short circuit is fixed and speech passes through the brain again before reaching the vocal chords. You may want to check with the boss again. The last time the chief executive uttered anything on the subject, he said only that he wanted stability in the market. I grant you that I do not know what that means either, but I do not believe the dictionary will tell you that 'up' and 'stable' are synonyms. If it is true, however, that you will consider whatever proposals come before you, sir, then I have a suggestion for you. Do nothing. Please, I beg you. I am on your side. As a homeowner, I want prices up too and nothing will serve that purpose better than that you do nothing at all.