WHEN Daniel learned he was about to be cast into the lions' den, he went to a window facing Jerusalem, went down on his knees three times a day and prayed to God. Christian prisoners, forced to face the felines in the Roman arena, were not averse to a bit of last-minute communication with Him Upstairs either. But David Chu Yu-lin's chosen spine-stiffener on Wednesday was a consultation with a slightly more worldly interlocutor. Just before he went into the Legislative Council chamber to propose his motion against private members' bills, which contravene agreements in the Joint Liaison Group, he was spotted in animated conversation with that man of a thousand pen-names, Bernard Fong. Finally Bernie broke away from the huddle. 'David wants to back down,' said Fong, choking back the tears. 'I told him to stand firm, but he wants to back down. I told him he shouldn't have been having lunches with Democrats.' Finally he came out with it. Bernard Fong, former political staffer for the Liberal Party's Allen Lee Peng-fei, and now freelance public affairs adviser was working with Mr Chu. His advice: throw yourself to the lions. Whether it was the force of Bernard's logic that changed his mind we shall never know, but our David went out there and fought his corner. He was eaten alive. SOMEONE else with an aversion to private members' bills is Chief Secretary and Special Administrative Region boss-wannabe, Anson Chan Fang On-sang. Anson watchers say the distaste for legislators and the post-1997 ambitions may not be wholly unconnected. So one should not be surprised that eye-witnesses spoke of an additional brightness in the Chan smile when she was presented with specially-printed business cards for her recent visit to Japan. To the Chief Secretary's delight, the kanji characters chosen by her hosts read 'Chief Executive' in Chinese. WE say goodbye this weekend to the Deputy Spokesman at the British Trade Commission, Martin Thursfield, who is being recalled to London on the entirely logical grounds that he speaks Chinese. It seems the Foreign Office now has virtually no Chinese speakers either on the Hong Kong Desk or the China Desk. Where were they all, we asked innocently. Oh, said Martin, Sarajevo, Kiev, all sorts of new capitals. Could it be that all Sir Percy Cradock's disciples have been purged? STILL, we predict the Sinologists will be making a comeback soon enough. Sino-British relations have now deteriorated to the point where journalists covering Xinhua jamborees are being subjected to multiple identity-checks to ensure Chris Patten has not sneaked in disguised as a media person. That is the only explanation we can think of for the security arrangements at Wednesday's ground-breaking ceremony for the new Chinese Foreign Ministry complex at Kennedy Road. The Governor was not invited. But the media were - only to be herded from one security line to another. First, journalists' company ID cards were checked against their business cards. Then they were checked against a list of invitees. Then they were sent to another table where names and numbers were logged into a book. Finally, there was the metal detector. All this so they could be escorted to stand quarantined behind a red tape, while dignitaries made speeches. Only when nobody from the press enclosure responded with any provocative remarks, were the Boys from Beijing finally persuaded the area was Patten-free. Really, they needn't have bothered. One quick check with Government House, and Xinhua would have realised the Governor was far too busy working on the speeches and lectures he will deliver in London over the next week to bother crashing any parties. BUT there's clearly more to this paranoia than meets the eye. Not only is Xinhua getting jumpy and Anson Chan and Chief Justice Sir Ti Liang Yang are under stepped-up security, but even the Democratic Party (DP) is getting worried too. The DP's North Point office had its door vandalised and was later subject to a bomb threat. The party-staffer in the office calmly called the police and got on with her job. Hats off to her, please.