NOBODY seems to have a good word to say for Chris Patten nowadays. So it seems a bit odd to be preserving the quaint ritual of thanking him for the annual policy address. But, like the British Parliament and other primitive societies, the Legislative Council has discovered polite rituals are the perfect vehicle for set-piece attacks on one's leaders and social superiors. And as Elsie Tu used to find to her delight, it was the special honour of the House Chairman to move the annual motion of thanks to the Governor. She would start the debate with a sour little number designed to show that she, the Venerable Tu, would not be thanking him for anything except bowing out with as much humiliating haste as he could muster. Her successor, Dr Leong Che-hung, does not go in for sour little speeches. His hair may be parted in a manner one can never decide is supposed to be foppish or severe. But he does not look like a man who sucks lemons. Dr Leong was, as ever, wreathed in smiles. 'I rise,' he began in the time-honoured formula, 'to move a motion of thanks on behalf of the House on the Governor's policy address, 1995.' He was, he continued, particularly grateful for the title. Now this was generous. But it had the unmistakable sound of faint praise. The good doctor had found a cavity in the Governor's address and proceeded to wriggle his tongue around in it like a man obsessed. For this had been a speech that lacked teeth. And Dr Leong is a man of prominent teeth. 'Sir,' he said, addressing the President as if it were his fault, 'this week, Hong Kong plays host to some 5,000 dentists from some 70 countries around the world at the Annual World Dental Congress.' Hong Kong had found a place in the world map of dentistry, he said. But the authorities appeared to be careless of caries. Was oral health a non-issue? Did Hong Kong have a proper dental policy? There was a formidable population out there (the mind's eye pictured an array of fangs, tusks, sabre-teeth all bared in anger) - a population which needed oral health care, but most of whom couldn't afford it. (Let there be a wailing and a gnashing of stumps. But gnash gingerly, okay?) Why were 58 government dental clinics and 211 dental officers only there to meet contractual obligations to civil servants. And even they, he continued, bit now firmly between his teeth, preferred private treatment. 'The Government must develop a proper oral policy!' In fact, it is Legco that has the oral policy. Jaw-jaw and sometimes bore-bore - (though only in speeches about dentistry, of course). The Government has an aural policy. Donald Tsang, the Financial Secretary, set it out clearly in last weekend's Sunday Morning Post. A policy of stuffing the ears with wax, so as not to hear the Siren calls of the legislature. Libby Wong was kind enough to praise him for choosing such an apt, classical reference for such a wrong-headed policy. But, Dr Leong was going to get his teeth into Mr Tsang's ears. The Governor's speech had been about co-operation, not refusing to discuss or listen, he thundered. 'Let us hope that this 'working togetherness' will not be just a lip service.' So there you have it. A labial policy.