Cool and capable Lily Yam Kwan Pui-ying, Secretary for Environment and Food, has seemed a little touchy as the pollution row hots up. She was furious at being quoted about shutting schools and offices if the index shot past the danger level when she spoke at Legco last week. She claimed that what she said was that other cities had done so. Perhaps the reports got her a bit of flak from the SAR's all-powerful business lobby. Anyway, rumour says she sent a tape to the director of the journalism and media studies centre at the University of Hong Kong, Chan Yuen-ying, suggesting it should be used as a lesson to students on the importance of accuracy. Back came an indignant letter from Mr Chan asking her if she was trying to use his school for propaganda purposes. Is Tung Chee-hwa a glutton for punishment, or does he really feel his fortune is linked to economic indicators? If so, he's out of line with the Hong Kong Transition Project survey. Even Dr Michael DeGolyer hadn't a kind word to say for him. As the good doctor sharply reminded one journalist who canvassed his personal opinion, the findings his team revealed were the feelings of the people. Dr DeGolyer certainly wasn't prepared to get drawn into the debate. All the same, he did soften a little and gave a few words of advice to the Chief Executive. Assessing Mr Tung's perceived subservience to Beijing, Dr DeGolyer said: 'If he was a true nationalist, wishing to serve the motherland, he'd do everything in his power to make sure the one country, two systems arrangement worked - and worked so smoothly that the people of Taiwan were hammering at the door to get in.' Some hope of that. They may be hammered in eventually, but not by their own doing. The Government Information Services has been praised by the media for introducing live press conferences on the Web. But information officers are not so happy. After one such event in the Murray Building, an official was overheard whispering to the man in charge of the real-time broadcast: 'What you have done has made our life more difficult. Not only can my boss monitor how we conduct the press conference on the Internet, he then starts wondering where I am if I am not back to the office in 20 minutes.' The listing season is upon us. Asiaweek, Newsweek, and Asia Inc have all brought out their rankings of the rich and powerful. Not to be outdone, the overseas edition of the People's Daily this week produced its own chart of the country's 20 richest professions. Predictably, they are refreshingly different. First come 'owners of private enterprises', with personal wealth close to 10 billion yuan (about HK$9.3 billion). Second are senior executives working for foreign joint ventures and earning up to US$2,000 (about HK$15,550) a month. Next in order come managers, technicians, actors, pop stars, models, athletes, novelists, lawyers, accountants, economists, drug traffickers, prostitutes, and (wait for this) blackmailers and corrupt officials. Poor David Lan Hong-tsung. The usually unflappable Secretary for Home Affairs was taken aback when a reporter asked him last week: 'How are you going to celebrate your last birthday?' After decades with the civil service, Mr Lan calls it a day next month. But he was a bit thrown by the 'last' word. Mr Lan, a fung shui enthusiast asked anxiously. 'What do you mean last?'. 'Sorry sir, I mean your last birthday in office,' said the hack. The relief . . .