WHILE the police might have been poorly prepared for the violent protesters who descended on the Central Government Offices after Friday's court ruling on mainland overstayers, they were quick to step up security for senior officials. Bodyguards were very visible as Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang attended a reception at a restaurant in nearby Hong Kong Park. Speaking at a press conference, Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee confirmed that extra protection had been given to those holding sensitive posts. That surprised Director of Immigration Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong, who was sitting alongside her. 'I don't have any,' he quipped. It turned out he was wrong, although his protection was clearly much more low-key than Mrs Chan's. 'You have,' Mrs Ip retorted. 'You just don't know it.' More extreme examples are still emerging of the heavy-handed lobbying that secured the passage of the bill abolishing the municipal councils last week. Apparently one official even went so far as to lock the door to the legislators' tea-room before the crucial division. Not so much to stop their voting fodder from escaping but rather to stop the press from seeing their heavy-handed tactics. Just for good measure he also blocked it with a chair. But legislators were angered at being locked in. Maybe it is time to consider banning officials from the tea-room? One little-noticed victor in last Sunday's District Council polls was Chan Ping. Earlier this year he was stripped of his posts in the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong after admitting taking a karaoke girl back to his room on a visit to Guangdong. But voters in Tai Po still elected him, perhaps considering this less of a sin than that his opponent belonged to the Liberal Party. Remember that big auction in Beijing? The one to sell advertising space in the January 1 editions of nine state-run papers? Well, the results are now in and make for some interesting reading. Apparently Hong Kong's Wen Wei Po is worth far more than its mainland counterparts, attracting a top bid of 980,000 yuan (about HK$919,000) for a full page advert. The best the People's Daily could manage was one offer of 450,000 yuan. But pity the English-language China Daily. No one even bothered to bid for its two advertising slots. Over in Seattle, local reporters covering World Trade Organisation (WTO) talks thought they had a big story when word came that the Chinese delegation would hold a special press briefing. Braving pepper spray and police curfews they battled to the venue, expecting some juicy details on issues where Beijing is at odds with many WTO members. Few could resist a wry smile when Chinese Ambassador to the US Li Zhaoxing emerged to announce news he clearly considered much more important. In a solemn voice, Mr Li said that a female panda cub born in Seattle zoo had been named Hua Mei, which means China-US. As both characters can also mean beautiful, he said this symbolised the friendship between the two countries. Beijing may be keen to join the WTO but it seems even this must take second place to panda diplomacy.