Once that cone of silence descends, there's just no talking to government officials

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 June, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 June, 2007, 12:00am

How hard is it to talk to a senior government official? It can be almost impossible if it is planning director Ava Ng Tse Suk-ying. Mrs Ng was in Legco this week to brief lawmakers on plans to impose height restrictions in some areas. Afterwards, Mrs Ng, her public relations minder and a bureau official were cornered by a Post reporter and another newshound.

Since the Legco briefing had become a bit technical, the reporters asked the PR woman, out of courtesy, if they could ask the director a few questions to clarify some points. Everyone, at this time, was within one metre of each other. The PR woman turned around to relay the reporters' request to Mrs Ng. According to my Post colleague, Mrs Ng told her no, she didn't feel like talking. The bureau official then told the PR woman to tell the reporters Mrs Ng was busy. But the hacks had heard and everyone went their separate ways.

Mrs Ng was no doubt just following media-handling protocols: never talk to reporters directly if you can avoid it.