New Year Quiz question: What is the first skill a budding politician has to master, if he wants to become a fully fledged exponent of the art? Answer: Back-pedalling, what else? Chief executive-designate Tung Chee-hwa has wasted no time in getting lessons from the experts. During the holiday weekend, while the rest of Hong Kong was recovering from Christmas and preparing for the New Year, the genial leader-in-waiting was out on the tracks, learning a spot of trick cycling and, by all accounts, showing a marked degree of interest in the finer points. Children on unicycles and bicycles demonstrated their back-pedalling skills for Mr Tung at a fun sports day organised by the pro-China Federation of Trade Unions. The weekend event was held at the Hong Kong Sports Institute in celebration of the return of the territory's sovereignty to China. What's so surprising about all those soon-to-be SAR subjects, Preparatory members and all, accepting a 'gong' in the New Year's Honours' list? Think about it. Governor Chris Patten is said to have firmly refused all honours that the British Government has offered to him: now who in their right mind wants to be seen doing the same as him? Wonderful Freudian slip on RTHK's Letter to Hong Kong at the weekend. Speaker Tsang Yok-sing, the fervently pro-China leader of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong, was twice described as running the much-less partisan Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood. Serves all parties right for having such drawn-out titles. Oh dear. Government House isn't big enough, his official premises aren't safe enough . . . life seems terribly tough for Tung Chee-hwa as he struggles to assume the burdens of office. He's set his heart on somewhere in Wan Chai, by all accounts, but it has to be a building with lots of exits and direct access to a closed car-park. Let's be frank about this, he needs plenty of escape hatches so that he can avoid the claustrophobic attention of the press, who will lie in wait to record his every movement during his first months in office. Mr Tung is primarily concerned that his presence doesn't cause inconvenience to other people in the building, and Government House admits that's a fair point. They allocated the Landmark suite because it was earmarked for the insider-dealing tribunal, and in a state of readiness. Finding somewhere which completely suits the bill might take some time, but a team of civil servants is involved in the search. Mr Tung is said to be thinking of the Sun Hung Kai building, but in view of his priorities, maybe the best place would be a redundant fire station somewhere in the heart of the city. That way he could slide down the greasy pole right into a waiting limousine and make a dash for it crouched down behind the back seat, past all the hacks staked out on the pavement. While we're on the subject of the Chief Executive-designate, has he hired a Hollywood agent? There's a nifty bit of 'product placement' in the official photographs of his breakfast meeting with Chief Secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang at the family villa, the Island Club in Deep Water Bay, which would gladden the heart of any advertising executive. There, on the table, stand not one, but two readily identifiable jars of a certain brand of jam and marmalade. Was it just one of those things, or his subtle way of assuring Anson that his regime will be 'jam today, and jam tomorrow'?