Poison pens drawn in newspaper war Days after Apple Daily ran a page of pictures of the great and the good in Hong Kong with each being stabbed by a ballpoint pen, the newspaper's owner, Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, found himself the target of a ballpoint-pen attack in fellow Chinese-language newspaper Sing Tao Daily. Under the headline 'The Dark Side of Jimmy Lai Series', Sing Tao said the full-page ad that marked the 13th anniversary of Apple Daily was part of a campaign by Mr Lai to consolidate his status as a leader of the opposition political camp ahead of the handover anniversary on Tuesday. The targets of Apple Daily's ad included Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa, tycoon Li Ka-shing and Mr Tsang's right-hand man, Norman Chan Tak-lam. Sing Tao Daily said the ad was not the only step Mr Lai had taken to shore up his influence. It said Next Magazine, Apple Daily's sister publication, had carried two reports that sought to influence the outcome of the election for Legislative Council seats in the Hong Kong Island constituency. One report had carried smears against Democrat Kam Nai-wai, Sing Tao said, and another had put pressure on Anson Chan Fang On-sang to run again. The 'war of pens' can only get livelier. Typhoon camouflages wind of political change What's better political gossip than the surprise resignation of a top minister during a typhoon signal No8? The first breeze of rumours was greeted with great scepticism when they began early on Tuesday evening. As lawmakers and journalists raced to call up contacts in the corridors of power for confirmation, a full-scale cyclone swept across the political landscape. Only at 10.48pm did the government put out a statement on the resignation of Fred Ma Si-hang; the Chief Executive's Office gave Donald Tsang's reaction to the news seven minutes later. A source conceded that the frantic calls from journalists had forced the government to come clean. Another minister told Political Animal that the cabinet had been in the dark until electronic media flashed the breaking news shortly after 9pm. Pan-democrats divided on advert shame list The row over the new political team has given the pan-democratic camp ammunition in the fight for voters' attention in September's Legislative Council election. Political Animal has learned that the camp plans to put up advertisements listing the names of those who opposed the budget request to fund the salaries of newly hired undersecretaries and political assistants. But the camp is divided on the plan. Democrat Lee Wing-tat said the plan would not go ahead, pointing out that Frederick Fung Kin-kee of the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood and Joseph Lee Kok-long had voted to approve the budget. 'With or without advertisements, people all know our views towards the issue,' he said. The Frontier's Emily Lau Wai-hing said pan-democrats were undecided. DAB wishing to win hearts and minds Barack Obama won the Democratic Party's nomination for the US presidential race by embracing 'change'. The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong seems to believe embracing 'wishes' will win hearts and minds. It is using the slogan, 'Wishes, we work together to realise them' in a campaign video airing on bus and train TVs that features two veteran party leaders and two of its rising stars. And what are those wishes? Happiness, prosperity, harmony ... you name it.