Chris calls the tune - but index fails to dance

IN previous major speeches, watching the market move while Chris Patten spoke was a seat-wetting experience - especially that Friday afternoon when he gazetted his reform proposals and the index fell as fast as gravity could take it.

We get the impression that the market wasn't really listening to Chris yesterday. Either that or it has pretty strange tastes.

It opened flat when he started to speak at 2.30 pm and hovered around 9,360. But the moment he mentioned Anson Chan brokers started buying.

The index continued to rise as he talked about rising vegetable prices, then reversed and slid sharply for no apparent reason.

It made a sharp recovery when he talked about heart disease.

Then, at about 3.10 he mentioned curbs on car alarms and the brokers shouted 'sell', pushing the index down, with selling continuing during all the stuff about the Independent Commission Against Corruption.


Eighteen months ago a single word was enough to knock $1 billion of the stock exchange. Yesterday, the total range of trade in the afternoon was a mere 80 points.

We have a suspicion that half the TV sets in brokerages were switched off when Mrs Fong's Family Plaza ended at 2.30.

Change of tune THAT pointed stuff at the beginning of Chris's speech about this being the third of his five speeches as Governor will have amused Chim Pui-chung, the financial services representative on the Legislative Council.

In a half-page ad in one of yesterday's papers, he predicted that after the 1995 elections Chris will be asked to go back to Britain by the British Conservative Party, and the Brits will put an Old China Hand in his place for the last 18 months or so.


The rest of the ad is pretty conventional stuff such as comment on Sino-British relations and the like.

But wait. What happened to Mr Chim's remarkable suggestion last year: 'Negotiate with China for legal casinos on suitable outlying islands to generate income from a levy on patented operations'? It looks like Mr Chim has changed his mind on that issue. Or maybe he's suiting his message to his audience.


Last year he put an advert - including this suggestion - in the Post , among other places, and it contained quite a few witty asides.

With 1,000 days to go, the jokes have gone and the pro-Beijing Wen Wei Po has been deemed a more appropriate platform.

Red herrings OH dear. The folks at the Census and Statistics Department were so upset by our quips about the vegetable tycoons that they've put away their piles of match-sticks and written to 'clarify some points' on today's letters page.


The serious point of our original article was, of course, that the inflation figures are weighted too much towards food and not enough towards property.

This means the government can introduce red herrings, in the shape of green vegetables, into the inflation debate instead of tackling the problem head on.

Sure enough, when Chris was discussing inflation yesterday what was the first factor he blamed? Yes, it was veggies again.


In fact, the weightings of various items of expenditure have remained unchanged for four long years.

It's only a coincidence, but it's interesting to note that a few days after Lai See joked about vegetable tycoons pushing the price of baak choi beyond the reach of property developers, a study was announced that will lead to new weightings for the inflation indexes.

Lone voice DON'T feel left out after yesterday's announcement that Sega and two other companies were planning a karaoke-on-demand service, allowing Japanese would-be vocalists to have Feelings, Unchained Melody and other fine tunes piped onto their TV.

Lai See is proud to report that Hongkong Telecom's video-on-demand service will be offering karaoke facilities - and they'll be on trial long before the Japanese have got their act together.

One value-added service could be a special hotline. This would allow anyone ringing up with a credit card to pay for 'technical problems' to end their neighbour's karaoke-on-demand session at 3 am.

No love game THAT bane of the Royal Hong Kong Police Force, Superintendent (retired) Yaqub Khan, is out of the country.

He's gone to Pattaya to represent Hong Kong in a veterans' tennis tournament. He's 64, so he's competing in the 55-65 year-old group.

Yaqub was thrown out of the auxiliary police on trumped-up charges and spent 11 years engaged in a grinding legal battle before finally winning his case - and even now he claims the police force hasn't fulfilled its part in following up the judgment.

''They may be British stinking rotten colonialist scum, but I'm still representing them at tennis,'' he quipped.