Salty talk in Legco bothers Henry Tang Yesterday's letter of complaint by Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen to Legco was not the first since the legislative term started in September. As with previous complaints, Mr Tang expressed his 'deep concerns' about what he described as the 'vulgar and offensive language' used by League of Social Democrats lawmakers in reference to government officials during a meeting on Tuesday. What had him upset was league chairman Wong Yuk-man allegedly directing a Cantonese insult at Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Stephen Lam Sui-lung during a special meeting of the Legco Finance Committee. Committee chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing said she did not hear Mr Wong say puk kai - literally meaning 'drop in the street' but, colloquially, an impolite phrase roughly equivalent to the English 'drop dead' - so she could not throw out the offender. For his part, Mr Wong said he was not addressing Mr Lam. 'I did not say puk kai to Mr Lam. I only wondered aloud that it was puk kai when somebody would visit giant pandas instead of Hongkongers suffering in jails,' he said. Mr Lam had been under fire for planning to visit post-earthquake Sichuan, but not Hongkongers jailed on the mainland. Who's footing the bill? A day later, Mr Lam's colleague, Secretary for Home Affairs Tsang Tak-sing got into trouble at a Finance Committee meeting over another planned trip. Lawmakers asked why he would be using public funds when he led a Buddhist delegation to Taiwan - even though he would not be travelling in an official capacity. A Xinhua release added to the confusion, saying accommodation, food and drinks 'will be provided for'. Smokers expected to fume in July There's no smoke without fire, and catering sector legislator Tommy Cheung Yu-yan can already see the plumes rising ahead of July 1, when the smoking ban takes effect at restaurants and entertainment premises that currently enjoy an exemption. 'I am certain that smokers, as well as caterers seeing their businesses seriously affected, will hugely boost the turnout at the July 1 demonstration,' he said. A matter of institutional memory Donald Tsang Yam-kuen might have a point in wanting to create new posts for two senior administrative officers and one clerical worker, at an annual cost of HK$2.5 million, to help him keep track of his commitments and answer phone calls. But despite the workload, the post of special assistant to the chief executive has been left vacant since Gary Chan Hak-kan - now a legislator - quit nine months ago. A source at the Chief Executive's Office said there were no signs of finding a successor. Has Mr Tsang forgotten the post he created three years ago, or does he now prefer civil servants to political appointees after last year's row over appointments? Alice Tai cooks up retirement scheme Outgoing Ombudsman Alice Tai Yuen-ying yesterday spelled out a long list of government weaknesses and administrative loopholes, but said she did not plan to be 'another Wong Wing-ping'. Joseph Wong Wing-ping, who held ministerial posts before retiring in July 2007, has since reinvented himself as a political commentator and critic of government maladministration. 'Why don't you think I'll just retire? You underestimate me,' Mrs Tai said at a farewell gathering. She said she had recently used half her monthly salary to buy a new oven - yes, that's a six-figure sum - and she plans to take cooking lessons to learn how to use it properly.