CONTRARY TO REPORTS, Secretary for Home Affairs Lam Woon-kwong was not the only official present at Gao Xingjian's lecture at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Director of Housing Tony Miller was spotted sitting through the lecture and the question-and-answer session afterwards. And, appropriately for such an important cultural event, RTHK director of broadcasting Chu Pui-hing and his assistant director Peter Shiu Lo-sin were also present. No doubt it was his interest in Chinese culture that attracted Mr Miller. He is one of the few expatriate officials who can read, write and speak Chinese well. The resignation of lawyer and Immigration Tribunal adjudicator Stephen Tang Lung-wai from his post at the Chinese University is the latest drama in the story of China's most wanted fugitive Lai Changxing, confined to a Vancouver maximum-security prison but able to call on a reputed network of influential friends in high places. An example of how he can pull strings from a jail cell came when the alleged smuggling kingpin learned the SAR Government was moving to revoke his Hong Kong passport. Lai took personal charge in fighting back, sidelining even his team of Canadian lawyers. He worked the phones from prison, and cashed in chips with contacts who came to visit. Before long, Mr Tang and another Hong Kong lawyer were winging their way to Vancouver on New Year's Day to counsel Lai on how to defend his passport in an SAR court. No one's saying who helped fix the detainee up with Mr Tang, but the feat impressed one of his Canadian lawyers who marvelled: 'Mr Lai seems to have a multi-tentacled reach.' Although unionist legislator Lau Chin-shek was refused entry to the mainland in his latest bid to return to Guangzhou to see his elderly mother, his mum managed to see him on a pre-recorded TV programme on the second day of the Lunar New Year. Dressed in a traditional Chinese gown, Mr Lau - along with Democrat James To Kun-sun - sang an auspicious song to mark the dawn of the Year of the Snake. The legislator will try again for a home-return permit. He hopes Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang's successor will be as helpful as Mrs Chan in pleading his cause. Despite having beaten his own record by writing 7,000 spring paper scrolls for members of the public in the run-up to the Year of the Snake, Democrat Andrew Cheng Kar-foo still sticks to one rule - not to write stuff he doesn't believe in. So when enthusiastic kai fongs (neighbours) urged him to inscribe 'Harvesting without making any effort' in Chinese calligraphy on red spring paper scrolls to put up on the walls at home, Mr Cheng refused, not wishing to encourage people to seek rewards without labour. The most popular choice of inscription was: 'Smiling all the time'. The Democrat said he managed to brush up his mastery in Chinese calligraphy through years of practise. However, it will probably still take time for him to become a calligraphy maestro like party whip Szeto Wah. More than 30 Legco reporters trooped into the spacious North Point residence of DAB legislator Choy So-yuk for a Lunar New Year get-together. There they got to know more about Ms Choy's fervent love for nature. She admitted to leaving her window wide open to enjoy the magnificent night view of Hong Kong Island while taking a shower in her ensuite bedroom. When hacks teased her that this news might reach paparazzi ears, she retorted that there was nothing to fear as she was just an old lady.