You pay lots of money to take your chance
AS predicted, lots of American lawyers are now advertising to help Hong Kong people get green cards.
They charge serious dollars and then enter their clients in the green card lottery already discussed a couple of times in this column.
The lottery allocates green cards entirely by chance to Hong Kong-born people.
This green card lottery is free. However, you'll find no mention of this in the literature of, for example, Edward Patrick Gallagher, a lawyer based in Washington DC, who asks for US$100 per person, plus $50 for each spouse and child over 18.
He makes a lot of fuss about using a ''specifically identifiable envelope'' to enter the draw, but in fact, as long as you don't send it in a stupid envelope the size of a football field, the US authorities are quite happy.
Much cheaper, and more literary, is Will Dwyer II, also of Washington DC, who charges just $20 and describes himself as ''an ally of Hong Kong democracy.
''I lobbied the US Congress for this separate immigration allocation for Hong Kong people,'' he says, because he wants ''lifelines in place'' by 1997.
Strange. The US consulate says Hong Kong people are now eligible because of a relatively low level of successful applicants to other programmes.
There are lots more out there. Those who don't want to send $100 to the sort of people seen in LA Law, but fancy their chances of winning a green card, should send a stamped self-addressed envelope to the US consulate to obtain their guidelines.
There's still time - the lottery doesn't close until June 30.
Don't send them a wad of $100 bills to lubricate your application though - American government employees react most unfavourably to that sort of incentive.
Sorry state IT'S always a problem if you've got an out-of-town guest who's bored, and that could be the position of the Chinese advisers lumbered with Lu Ping for eight long days.
One suggestion not found in the Lonely Planet guide is to send him to the home of Yaqub Khan, the auxiliary policeman whose victimisation by the Government is one of the most shameful sagas in Hong Kong's legal history.
Last week he was given a dismal apology in the form of a clasp for his Colonial Special Constabulary Medal after quiet lobbying from an independent legislator and an English MP.
This week, Yaqub said he'd be happy to be presented with this award by Lu Ping.
It would also give our visitor something to do for a day - and no chance at all of meeting Chris Patten.
Prangmatic A TOYOTA-owning reader was inching forward in a long queue trying to get out of the Wilson Parking car park beside the Hilton hotel on Thursday evening.
A grey Saab 900 was rather too keen to enter the queue, and it appeared that the Toyota's bumper took a knock.
Car drivers being car drivers, the moment they got out to look at it, five thousand horns blared and a couple of security guards appeared to find the problem.
The Toyota driver agreed to move to one side if the guards asked the grey Saab to move to one side too, so they could check for damage.
However, after the deal was made, the guards waved the Saab through.
Very strange. Then one of the guards happened to mention that the Saab was owned by a director of Wilson Parking.
It was. It was Paul Cornish, Wilson's development director who assured us yesterday that ''there was just some confusion with the staff''.
We were glad to hear it, but couldn't help wondering whether Paul might have got special treatment because he was director.
''I'm afraid not,'' he replied. ''But we do have to go around and look at all the car parks.'' Sounds more like a fiendish punishment than a job. No wonder he was desperate to get out.
Notes worthy WHILE the first Bank of China notes were yesterday predicted to be worth 50 per cent more than their face value to collectors, what about the rest? A chap from one of the other two note-issuers reckons they should trade at a discount - but he would, wouldn't he? The last time a gap opened up in the value of Hong Kong notes was during the weird run on Standard Chartered Bank in August 1991, when there were reports of people being happy to swap Standard Chartered $100 notes for $80 in Hongkong Bank notes. What mugs some people are.
If there is a differential, the place to find it will be in Guangdong province, where there is a definite penchant at the moment for Hongkong Bank notes.
Mail-function HERE'S another organisation that sends letters to ''Hong Kong, Japan'' - the World Travel and Tourism Council, which is based in Brussels.
Isn't that somewhere in France?