OH, the suspense! Oh, the tension! Who will win the by-election caused by Lau Chin-shek's resignation from the Legislature? Will it be Mr Lau's comrade-in independent-labour-union-arms Lee Cheuk-yan? Will it be the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong's Chan Yuen-han? Faites vos jeux, ladies and gentlemen, place your bets . . . Hang on a minute. Isn't this all a bit premature? Mr Lau hasn't actually resigned yet. He's not going to resign until after the Government's revised Employment Bill goes through Legco. Maybe there won't be a by-election after all. But, you say, Mr Lau's a man of integrity. He really does intend to resign. Aha, we, reply. But when is the Government going to table its new bill? A glance at the Electoral Provisions Ordinance (article 5H paragraph 2(a) to be precise) reveals no by-election need be held within the four months preceding the fourth anniversary of the previous election. And the Governor has 21 days after Mr Lau's resignation to announce a vacancy exists. All the Government and legislators who don't happen to want an election have to do is delay the Bill's passage until next April - and hey presto, no poll! The Democratic Party will be delighted ONE person not complaining about the Governor's busy travelling agenda is his deputy, Chief Secretary Anson Chan. Our colleagues over at Sing Tao have done their sums and come to the conclusion she's earned a hefty $141,157.5 this year, give or take a cent or two, from Chris Patten's absences. It seems that as Acting Governor, she receives - in addition to her own monthly salary of $171,100 - the difference between her salary and the Governor's monthly $213,875. She also gets a further 10 per cent of the difference to make up for the fact she's doing two jobs. Multiply that by three for the months he's been out of town and it adds up to a tidy little Christmas bonus. NO wonder Law Society President Roderick Woo was so overwhelmed by the turnout at Wednesday's extraordinary general meeting he felt moved to call it off. From the Corridors has learned that just after the meeting started Mr Woo told members he had originally refused to hold an EGM because he feared there would be an 'empty hall'. We understand that seeing the numbers queueing outside he added, 'My prayers have been answered.' But maybe, as the numbers built up further, the divine generosity got a bit too much for him. GOVERNMENTAL right and left arms are still having difficulty communicating with each other. Following the tragic demolition site-collapse in Nathan Road earlier this year, Secretary for Environment Planning and Lands, Tony Eason, had a consultation document drawn up with the aim of ensuring contractors on future works show the necessary expertise. When it was finished, a copy was sent to the Construction Association and another to the Hong Kong Institute of Architects. Even the South China Morning Post knew of its existence. But were Mr Eason's colleagues over at Works Branch kept in the picture? Nope. Works branch is responsible for most of the $70 billion public works budget. But the first Chief Assistant Secretary for Works Raymond Wong had heard of it was when our construction industry watcher asked him about a reference to it in Mr Eason's speech to the Institute of Architects the previous day. TALKING of arms not communicating, left and right in the British Labour Party have also been having problems resolving their contradictions. A group of Labour MPs, led by former spokesman on Hong Kong Allan Rogers, tabled a motion attacking the territory's Agriculture and Fisheries Department. They said the AFD had been 'ineffective in eradicating the traffic in endangered species'. In a separate motion a different Labour group, led by actress Glenda Jackson, commend Ag and Fish, the police, Customs and Excise and the Endangered Species Protection Liaison group for their fine work. So now we know what the Labour Party thinks. LAWYER Michael Darwyne, well known in the past for his free legal work on behalf of the territory's boat-people, would like to continue his charitable work as an official Visitor to Whitehead and High Island Vietnamese detention centres. But Commissioner for Correctional Services Eric McCosh has just turned down his third application to be registered as a Visitor under the Vietnamese detention centre rules. Asked to give 'full details of my interest in the welfare of the detainees', Darwyne had replied that he was a Christian and had been brought up to love thy neighbour and care for the downtrodden. He wanted to lend support, offer an easy ear and to see the boat-people were receiving proper care. He also pointed out that the appointment of Visitors would show the administration had nothing to hide. The Commissioner was unmoved. You have set out your 'attributes' he wrote to Mr Darwyne, but not specified how you intend to use them 'to secure the welfare of the detainees' or what services you intend to offer. Services? Who said anything about services? Certainly not the rules on the appointment of Visitors. Even the United Nations is cutting down on services to refugees. 'Your decision,' wrote Mr Darwyne, 'must give the objective observer serious pause for thought as to what is going on inside the detention centres which apparently requires the exclusion of persons such as myself on such specious grounds.' When we talked to the lawyer yesterday, the Commissioner had not yet formulated a seasonally warm-hearted reply. Merry Christmas.