WHAT'S in a name? My wife is a Cheung. I am a Hung, for Chinese purposes. Somewhere out there in Hong Kong is a Mr Cheung Hung. I expect the second character is different. Actually, there are two versions of Mr Cheung Hung, and thereby hangs a strange tale. The first Mr Cheung is a decorator, who injured himself at work. On his behalf, the Legal Aid Department sought compensation from his employer. This Mr Cheung makes no further appearance in this story. All future references are to a second Mr Cheung Hung whom we shall meet in a moment. Having succeeded in cajoling $40,000 out of the employer, the department had to hand the money over to the intended recipient. It did this by telephoning the number left with the department by the injured decorator. But the person who made the call mixed up one of the digits. It happens all the time. So the person who answered the phone (who seems to have been working for a large organisation) received a mysterious message to the effect that Mr Cheung Hung should come to the Legal Aid Department and collect his $40,000. The telephone operator passed this happy news to the second Mr Cheung, whom we can imagine wondering what on earth was going on. However Mr Cheung was not the man to disappoint a government department with a substantial sum of money burning a hole in itspocket. He turned up at the Legal Aid Department where, after checking his ID card, a legal aide staffer duly handed over the shekels. Mr Cheung now claims he pointed out that ''it might not be him'', but perhaps he did not do so very loudly. LATER the mistake was discovered. At this point the story gets less amusing. Mr Cheung was arrested and eventually convicted of ''obtaining property by deception'' He was sentenced to a jail term, albeit a suspended one, and ordered to repay $5,000. The rest of the cash had apparently been lavished on ill-chosen horses. I must say this seems to me rather unfair, as well as stretching the concept of ''obtaining by deception'' rather further than most of us might wish to see it go. Perhaps $40,000 is not a huge sum of money these days, but for many people in Hong Kong it is still quite a lot. If you receive a somewhat garbled and indirect message saying that a Government department wishes to donate a large sum of money to you, whatare you supposed to do? Our Government moves in mysterious ways. It often sends out requests for money which are unexpected and unwelcome to their recipients. Why not an occasional mystery in the other direction? The one thing we all know about invitations to visit a Government department is that it is extremely dangerous to ignore them. No doubt in a perfect world a citizen summoned to the Legal Aid Department for an unexpected subvention would protest vigorously that he was unworthy of the honour and the cash should be given to some more deserving recipient. But it seems unkind to put all the blame for any misunderstanding on this point on Mr Cheung. He had no prior knowledge of the matter. Civil servants can be somewhat remote and peremptory when collecting money; perhaps they are similarly uncommunicative when dishing it out. What good has been served by the prosecution of Mr Cheung? There are easier ways of safeguarding public money than persecuting people for failing to resist with sufficient vigour erroneous donations from Government departments. The taxpayer has now lost not only the $35,000 which Mr Cheung donated to the Jockey Club, but also the cost of Mr Cheung's detention and trial. Mr Cheung now has a criminal record, though a rather amusing one. I notice also that Mr Cheung was defended by a solicitor. Not on Legal Aid by any chance, was he?