Special Handover Political Animal Despite the grand setting with a big backdrop in the Convention and Exhibition Centre stating clearly that it was the '10th anniversary' of Hong Kong's handover, guests attending the swearing-in ceremony for the new administration, for a split second, thought they had travelled back to 1997. It happened when the official acting as master of ceremonies invited the chief executive to go to the stage and take the oath with President Hu Jintao as witness, and mistakenly read the name as 'Tung'. While no one could tell whether former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa, sitting beside his successor Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, was amused, deputy director of food and environmental hygiene Alice Lau Yim, who made the slip, was clearly embarrassed. 'We now invite the third chief executive, Tung ... Tsang Yam-kuen to step on stage and take the oath,' the Beijing-born administrative officer had said, interrupting her otherwise perfect announcement in Putonghua. The lack of Putonghua skills drew severe criticism for top officials at the swearing-in in 1997, but there was no such problem yesterday, if only because most of the officials merely recited their oaths from a piece of paper. The only official in front of a microphone was new Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen, whose Putonghua is excellent. On the other hand, Zhou Nan , former director of Xinhua's Hong Kong branch, demonstrated how well he had mastered a non-mother tongue. Asked in Putonghua by a reporter how he felt about the handover anniversary, he answered in English: 'Hello, how are you? See you later.' Language skills or the lack of them caused further embarrassment later at the opening of the Shenzhen Bay cross-border checkpoint when Mr Hu asked an immigration officer how many passengers the checkpoint could handle in a day. Flustered, the officer replied, 'about 1,000' - something of an understatement as it can handle 58,000 a day and is expected to serve 30,000 in the early stages. When a baffled Mr Hu asked again about the bridge's capacity, the officer cast a pleading glance at Mr Tsang, who translated the question for her. The Immigration Department attributed her mistake to overexcitement at meeting the president.