Talk about a lesson in politics: can anyone beat our premier's dance around Hong Kong this past week? Certainly not the chief executive. At every photo-op, there was the smiling, baby-hugging Wen Jiabao, with Tung Chee-hwa either out of focus in the background or obscured by the press pack. But if being upstaged in the art of democratic survival skills by a supposed communist wasn't enough, Mr Tung had to suffer the ignominy of being told not to let down 'the people' as Mr Wen waltzed out of town just hours before half a million of them marched through the streets. And what they were protesting, unless I got this wrong, was legislation required by Article 23 of the Basic Law - a gift given to Hong Kong by the central government. Personally, I feel for Mr Tung. It's not easy to play this game, especially when you are inevitably going to be compared to someone like Mr Wen. This is the man who was caught between former premier Li Peng and party chief Zhao Ziyang during the Tiananmen crisis of 1989 and survived to tell the tale. He knows all about mass demonstrations. Indeed, he may look like a science professor, but Mr Wen has consummate political skills. Who else could have pulled off what he did this week in Hong Kong, while at the same time ensuring that some extremely important issues were being dealt with back in Beijing? If you are not sure what I'm on about, consider this. While Mr Wen was walking around shaking hands in Amoy Gardens this week, two apparently contradictory developments were taking shape in Beijing. The first was that the investigation into property developer extraordinaire Chau Ching-ngai seemed to be hitting the skids. Huang Ju, the seventh-ranking member in the politburo standing committee, was appointed to oversee the investigation into Mr Chau's dealings in Shanghai, which took place - goodness me! - at the same time that Mr Huang was party secretary of the city. The second was that the standing committee of the National People's Congress approved draft legislation strengthening the protection of ordinary citizens' property rights. So although people who claim they were denied justice by Mr Chau are not likely to see the walls of scandal come tumbling down around him, progress is being made that will hopefully protect their descendants from his descendants. On the mainland, that's not something to laugh at. Many more people will benefit from the reforms being crafted by Mr Wen and his team than those that lose out in the Chau scandal. Of course, it's not easy to acquire such skills. Mr Wen has had a lifetime to do it, unlike officials here. Much as Secretary for Security Regina 'they've got nothing better to do' Ip would hate to admit it, she too could learn a lot from the premier. In essence, the best he could teach her is that a politician needs to be able to function in both smoky back rooms as well as in full public view. Article 23 should never have generated as much public discontent as it has. But then, if attention had been paid to details while all the horse-trading was going on between the government's drafters of the national security laws and their opponents, it probably wouldn't have. At the end of the day, what really drew half a million people on to the streets on Tuesday was a combination of reality and perception. The reality was that there were glaring holes in the government's draft bill. The perception was that they existed to please the central government. And yet, no one blames Beijing for this. Why? Because Mr Tung and his team make it so obvious, that's why. All this talk about one's duty as a Chinese citizen and the duty under the constitution - why spell it out? No one cares about any of that, most certainly not our masters in Beijing. What people care about is whether their interests are being protected. To be sure, people here want the gap to close between the two systems of our one country - but they want it to close on the mainland's efforts, not Hong Kong's. What we need is a leader who grasps that. I think the premier does.