Torch-bearer lobbying a race to the last
Intensive lobbying for a place on the city's Olympic torch relay has delayed publication of the names of the 120 torch-bearers, Political Animal can reveal. A source said the list had still not been finalised. 'Some people are still trying very hard to find a place. Some athletes, whom the government wants to join the run, have pulled out for one reason or another.' Ng Leung-sing, a former legislator close to the Bank of China group in Hong Kong, doesn't need to lobby for the chance to run 150 metres along a city street clutching the Games symbol. He plans to take part in one of the relay legs on the mainland. Mr Ng declined to disclose details, saying only that the leg was in a city 'close to Hong Kong'. As one of the major sponsors of the Beijing Games, the banking group has apparently got plenty of places for its senior executives and business partners to take part in the nationwide relay.
No news on Legco jockeying
The Legco election rumour mill has been spinning wildly recently with talk of who will stand down ahead of September's poll and who will team up with whom for the ballot, and on whose list. Possible candidates were holding their cards to their chests yesterday. Legal constituency lawmaker Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, who has said she will decide this month whether or not to run, revealed she would disclose her decision at month's end. Anson Chan Fang On-sang, seen as a possible running mate for a Democratic Party member on Hong Kong Island, said that she had made no decision. Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan was non-committal about whether talks with Mrs Chan had begun, keeping the guessing game going. Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat, who, rumour has it, is under pressure to make way for new blood, said that it was too early to make a decision. However, the 71-year-old made it clear he felt no pressure.
Brief encounter leaves many wanting more
For the first time since July's ministerial reshuffle, environment minister Edward Yau Tang-wah and his predecessor Sarah Liao Sau-tung posed together for the cameras yesterday. Both were invited by the University of Hong Kong to officiate at the opening of its new environment centre. While many might have hoped that the pair would have lots to share on how to make the city a better place to live, their encounter was surprisingly brief. Most of the talking at the function was done in the presence of HKU vice-chancellor Tsui Lap-chee. Dr Liao is now spending most of her time in Beijing.
Has loyalty ever had a higher price?
Long-serving government officials will find their loyalty particularly rewarding this year. Mean as it may be, the standard practice each year is to award an 18-carat gold pin to those who have served for 30 years. The good news for civil servants is that the pins are now worth HK$803, up from HK$728 last year and HK$530 in 2006. That's an increase of more than 50 per cent over two years. For taxpayers, the bad news is that some 3,000 officers are eligible for the 'long and meritorious service award' this year. Like soaring food prices, staff loyalty comes with an increasingly heavy price.