As Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa announced the government's intention to press ahead with the national security bill yesterday, his top officials lined up behind him. The physical show of strength was impressive, but there was one exception - Mr Tung's security chief, Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, the target of public outrage in recent weeks. Mrs Ip stood almost as far away from her boss as was respectably possible. Last night the chief executive's office said Mrs Ip's position in the lineup was pure coincidence. The spokesman said the arrangement of the officials at the press conference was unplanned. But political observers begged to differ, describing Mrs Ip's placement as a move to avoid a deepening of public resentment. Political analyst Li Pang-kwong, associate professor of Lingnan University, said: 'Mrs Ip has been selling the law hard. She should have been standing right next to Mr Tung on the day of such an important announcement. 'But I think the public may find it disgusting to see Mr Tung and Mrs Ip standing together on television or in newspaper photographs.' Both Mr Tung and Mrs Ip were the subject of abuse during the 500,000-strong protest last Tuesday, with the security chief's recent remarks said to have incited the large crowd of demonstrators. 'The government now understands that it cannot ignore public opinion after the 500,000-strong protest. It cannot do anything further to incite the public,' Dr Li said.