THE normally soft-spoken government spin-doctor Stephen Lam Sui-lung came close to losing his composure over the right of abode issue last week. Guests at a lunch for a visiting Australian journalist were treated to the rare sight of Mr Lam becoming visibly infuriated as constitutional law expert Yash Ghai accused the administration of doing the 'greatest disservice to Hong Kong' by seeking a reinterpretation of the Basic Law from Beijing. The D8 official responded with a lengthy reiteration of the Government's defence of its controversial move. For good measure he added that civil servants have always had Hong Kong's best interests at heart since the Joint Declaration was signed in 1984. But Mr Lam later insisted he bore no grudges over the war of words. 'Nothing personal,' he told Professor Ghai after the lunch. Meanwhile, workaholic Tourism Commissioner Mike 'Mickey' Rowse has finally admitted to making a mistake. Eyebrows were raised when Mr Rowse, who burned the midnight oil bringing Disney to Hong Kong, told the press conference announcing the deal that most of the theme park's visitors would be foreigners. 'The majority, nearly two-thirds, will be tourists from overseas,' he said. Last week, official figures confirmed what many had already suspected - namely, that most of the visitors would come from other parts of China. That raised questions about whether the irrepressible Tourism Commissioner regarded everything north of Shenzhen as part of a foreign country. Asked about this discrepancy yesterday, Mr Rowse conceded to a slip of the tongue. But, ever anxious to have the last word, he added jokingly in his own defence: 'Don't forget that the Shenzhen River is tidal.' More tales of workaholic habits in government. Staff working for the Commissioner for Labour, Matthew 'Superman' Cheung Kin-chung, whine that he sets such a frantic pace that they cannot leave work before 7pm, a serious problem it seems for pampered civil servants. But one assistant commissioner has a more justifiable complaint: after attending a labour conference in Geneva, he was told by Mr Cheung to produce a complete report during the plane journey back to Hong Kong. Staff are also complaining again at the Trade Development Council (TDC). A new smart-card system has just been introduced to check staff attendance and control access to the office. That may not seem unusual, especially since many companies have such systems these days. Except that a recent memo told TDC staff to use the card to register their presence again after lunch, even if they do not leave the building. That has provoked indignation among some staff. They say management clearly suspects them of sneaking out of the office and only returning late in the afternoon to clock off work. But spokesman William Cheung Chee-fai insists the purpose of this unusual requirement is much more benign. 'The smart card is still in a trial period and we need the co-operation of staff to test the system to its limits,' he said.