ONE of the most enjoyable political feuds in Hong Kong, the spat between Legco's Emily Lau and our men in Washington and London, Barrie Wiggham and Sir David Ford, shows no signs of abating. Emily, that mistress of megaphone diplomacy, reports that Brian Chau, the eminent Secretary for Trade and Industry, is planning to downgrade the two commissioners' jobs from civil service level D8 to D3 or D4 when the present incumbents retire next year. Such a move would of course result in substantially lower pay for whoever takes over from the two men, both currently enjoying monthly incomes in excess of $100,000 plus perks. Readers may recall that when the two appointments were made in 1993, there were allegations of jobs for the boys. The Secretary for the Civil Service, Michael Sze, admitted last June that both had been allowed to continue to serve the Hong Kong Government beyond the age of 57 even though guidelines said they should have retired. Sir David was said to be 'uniquely qualified' for the post while Barrie was chosen 'for his seniority and because no local senior officer could be spared'. Others believed that Barrie was given the job as consolation for not getting the Chief Secretary's post because of the Government's localisation policy and that Sir David was simply being rewarded for long and loyal service. Emily has a particular gripe against Barrie because the Washington commissioner's job was upgraded from D4 to D8 when he was given the job on the grounds that such a move would give him better access to top US officials. He can now be spotted driving his white convertible 1965 Falcon around the American capital. Last year, Emily, who abstained from the Legco vote to endorse the appointment, demanded he account for all the important meetings he had held since arriving in the US. Barrie grudgingly complied. Now Emily has tabled a question before Legco calling on Brian Chau to state publicly if the proposal to downgrade the jobs is true and, if so, what are the reasons for doing so. 'I don't accept that we need to put D8 grade officers in the United States,' said Emily. 'It is a very senior position (Chief Secretary Anson Chan is the only civil servant on a higher grade at D10). I still believe the job was specially-created in a sort of jobs-for-the-boys way. If they do downgrade the job, it will be obvious the D8 position was established just for Barrie's benefit.' Brian's answers had better be good, otherwise the Lunar New Year's fireworks display will almost certainly be overshadowed.