ACCORDING TO THE Chinese-language press, Secretary for Security Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee burst into tears when friends mentioned a comic book poking fun at her which outsold all others at the book fair last week. Mrs Ip's sensitivity to being lampooned is well known. She drew attention to it by complaining to the Equal Opportunities Commission when a newspaper made unflattering comments about her hairstyle earlier this year. That only made matters worse. This time her distress was understandable. The cartoonist plumbed new depths by dragging her young daughter into the book in an unfavourable reference to Mrs Ip's hairstyle. Politicians may be fair game - but their children are not. If the author was so bereft of ideas that he had to resort to sneering references to a little girl, perhaps he should seek work where his talents are under less strain. The TV quiz show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire has caught the imagination of the former finance chief, now head of the civil service, Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. He watches the programme whenever he can, and claims to have no trouble answering questions on politics, economics and history, but is easily stumped by subjects concerned with children or their TV programmes. Democratic legislator Albert Ho Chun-yan also admits he is weak on topics relating to popular cartoon figures, but points out this is hardly a yardstick on which to judge general knowledge. As for health-constituency member Michael Mak Kwok-fung, he's stumped by questions related to biology. The recent re-appearance of the bird-flu virus caused Secretary for Environment and Food Lily Yam Kwan Pui-ying the biggest challenge in her 30-year career. She was working so intensely that her doctor e-mailed Mrs Yam to remind her that both body and spirit need rest, especially since recently recovering from breast-cancer treatment. But there was a lighter side to the crisis. She received lots of support and recognition from the public and was even approached by well-wishing Hong Kong tourists during a recent private trip to Osaka. Mrs Yam says she enjoyed touring the markets, and learned so many interesting things about chickens that she has now become an expert on the subject. The course of true love never did run smooth - especially when bureaucracy gets mixed up in the matter. When Penny Byrne, former head of publicity at the Hong Kong Tourist Association, fell for British journalist Tim Heald, who was in the territory in 1997 to write a book about the handover, it seemed a classic 'happy ever after' story. The couple married in England and commuted between their home in Cornwall and Mrs Heald's native Australia where her husband is guest lecturer at the University of South Australia. But immigration problems are causing them a real nightmare. British officials question the validity of their two-year marriage, and are demanding proof of cohabitation. Their Australian counterparts, meanwhile, refused to allow Heald to extend his three-month visa by two weeks in order to see out the semester. The writer was Best Man at former Governor Chris Patten's wedding. He is the biographer of Britain's Prince Philip and that doyen of romance, the late Dame Barbara Cartland. The story of the star-crossed pair would have been grist to the old Dame's mill. Maybe Heald will write a book about it himself. But not until his missus gets residency rights, of course.