Governor Chris Patten has put on a brave face and rejected criticisms that he is guilty of double standards by allowing two Exco members to try to get on the Selection Committee while banning senior mandarins from doing so. He said Vincent Cheng Hoi-chuen and Raymond Ch'ien Kuo-fung were his own advisers. Their role was different from that of senior civil servants who were defined as 'running part of the administration'. Mr Patten seems to be suggesting that individual Exco members are entitled to continue to hold different views on major policy issues such as the provisional legislature, despite the fact that members are supposed to take collective responsibility for Exco's decisions. Furthermore, there would be no 'inherent conflict of interest' if they took part in the exercise to kick the incumbent Legco members off the through-train and name a newly-composed provisional legislature. The Governor's relaxed approach towards his Exco advisers' participation in the Selection Committee is in contrast to his oft-cited stance that there is no way he will co-operate with the provisional legislature. It was only about a week ago that the British minister, Jeremy Hanley, vowed to put up a fierce fight against China's plan to establish the interim legislature, which he described as a thoroughly bad idea and one bound to create more problems. Notwithstanding the tough rhetoric, there are signs that the two sovereign states have put aside their bitter dispute over the provisional legislature and are working towards a new spirit of co-operation. It is difficult to imagine that there was no tacit understanding between the two sides on Exco members sitting on the Selection Committee before Mr Cheng and Dr Ch'ien submitted their application papers. Their seats are secured. As Professor Lau Siu-kai and some analysts have pointed out, their participation will help Sino-British relations. But the Governor has to pay a price - their participation will give credibility to the 400-member selection body and its choice of Chief Executive. China may well claim another victory in the battle over the provisional legislature, and the decision of two Exco members to join the Selection Committee may, on the face of it, have further weakened the position of the British side. Like it or not more people are accepting the reality of the provisional legislature. The 5,883 hopefuls, including dozens of former senior officials, who have signed to accept the role of choosing the provisional legislature, are proof of that. But the Governor may have felt it was worth compromising so that there would be a greater prospect of at least two Exco members - Mr Cheng and Dr Ch'ien - standing a chance of retaining their seats in the equivalent of Exco after the handover. The price for a show of double standards by the Governor and a weaker position over the provisional legislature, however, may be one worth paying. Many in political and government circles have been pessimistic about the future of the present Exco team if they are looking for a seat after July next year. It, like other British legacies, will not survive the change of sovereignty. New faces will appear with Beijing's blessing to join what is called under the Basic Law 'an organ for assisting the Chief Executive'. One analyst said: 'There are not too many incumbents who are really keen to stay. 'I'm sure the two will remain in Exco [after 1997.] They are China's united front targets.' Two other Executive Councillors who are tipped to stand a good chance of remaining are senior member Rosanna Wong Yick-ming and Andrew Li Kwok-nang. One common characteristic of the four is they have not been vocal critics of the plan for a provisional legislature. Mr Patten will be more than happy to see some of his top advisers keeping their seats and maybe helping their old colleague Tung Chee-hwa.