the ebbs and flows of prince richard: from autonomy hero to mini magnate Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one. - A.J. Liebling One never gets bored watching the ebb and flow of reputations in Hong Kong. A case in point is Richard Li Tzar-kai. Think back a few weeks. Prince Richard was being hailed as a hero by people who saw his bid to sell PCCW's telecommunications and media assets out from under mainland partner China Netcom as a laudable example of twisting the tiger's tale and striking a blow for local autonomy and the interests of small shareholders. Now cut to yesterday. With the ink on his contract to buy half of the Hong Kong Economic Journal barely dry, he was already doing the interview rounds, defending himself against charges that he planned to emasculate what some were calling with hyperbolic abandon the last truly free newspaper in the city. Go figure. Lai See is constantly amazed when he hears his journalistic colleagues, an unruly bunch if ever there was one, refer to themselves as eunuchs. Liebling - whose most famous epigram is quoted above and who made his name chronicling the foibles of the US press in the glory years of The New Yorker magazine - would probably have appreciated the irony. Li's liaisons still fill the pages The Economic Journal isn't known for giving its subjects the paparazzi treatment but they soon may be tempted, looking at the treatment their boss-in-waiting receives in competing papers. Yesterday's Oriental Daily News reported that a tall young lady (who was not his incumbent girlfriend Rachel) accompanied Mr Li to Bangkok's Banyan Tree Spa Hotel last Friday. It offered proof in the shape of a photo - pixelated beyond recognition - that it said had been snapped by an alert Oriental reader. Romantic speculation about the town's golden bachelor never dies. megainfo falls back to earth In case you were wondering, here is how Megainfo Holdings has fared since last week when it eclipsed the local stock exchange record for the largest single-day price gain - 18 times - held by Mr Li's former vehicle Tricom. It went on a six-day skid, closing yesterday at 25.5 HK cents, down 87 per cent from its peak but still up six times since its share placement. Meanwhile, Swire's Haeco recorded the biggest one-day jump yesterday. It ended at HK$102.20, up HK$10.80, the first time it has closed above HK$100. The price has almost doubled in a year. geely boss plays his cards right Last year it was TSMC chairman Morris Chang Chung-mou who stole the limelight at the Asian inter-city bridge competition. This year it was Gui Shengyue, chief executive of Geely Automobile, one of the main sponsors of the annual competition. Playing for his Shenzhen team, Mr Gui was among those vying for the trophy that will be awarded to Asia's top bridge player. Among his competitors are AIG senior vice-chairman Edmund Tse Sze-wing and Wai Kee Holdings vice-chairman Derek Zen Wei-peu. The one-week competition kicked off on Tuesday with guests of honour Timothy Fok Tsun-ting and Golden Harvest chairman Raymond Chow Ting-hsing in attendance. Mr Chow, now 79, no longer plays as often as he once did but in past competitions he has faced off against rivals such as casino king Stanley Ho Hung-sun and Patrick Ho Chi-ping, Secretary for Home Affairs. bank of china wants blood donors Bank of China (Hong Kong) will spend next week doing its utmost to add to the Red Cross's blood bank. Those who donate at its Central headquarters (Monday to Wednesday), its Olympian City office (Thursday to Friday) or at City One Plaza (Thursday to Saturday) will receive free coupons for a healthy lunch at the Tsui Hang Village Restaurant or the Yunyan Szechuan Restaurant (spicy tan tan noodle) or for sporting gear. During last year's initiative, the bank attracted 820 donors, including 383 members of its own staff.