The real reason the chief justice is retiring? Among judges and barristers dressed in stockings and wigs in a ceremony that juxtaposed bagpipes with the national anthem, Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwok-nang stood on the stage at the opening of the legal year for the 13th and last time, his eyes reddening with sentiment. At the end of his speech he was visibly moved. 'It has been the greatest honour of my life to serve as your chief justice and to be given an opportunity to contribute at this dawn of the new constitutional order,' he said. A three-minute standing ovation ensued, with senior barristers first to hop to their feet. With such obvious sentiment and fondness for the legal community, the rumour mill could soon be grinding again with speculation about whether Li really wanted to go. But Bar Association chairman Russell Coleman was quick to dispel such rumours in his speech. 'There is absolutely no truth in the rumour that the chief justice felt compelled to retire because, despite having worked with six previous chairmen, he cannot stand the current chairman of the Bar.' A true meeting of high-powered minds The global financial meltdown may have thrown the world into turmoil, but it helped pull together two of the sharpest brains in town. Chinese University has announced the marriage on Sunday of its vice-chancellor, Professor Lawrence Lau Juen-yee, and accountant Ayesha Macpherson. The pair got to know each other better after being appointed to a taskforce that helped the chief executive assess the impact of the crisis. Lau, 65, and Macpherson, 43, a partner at accountancy firm KPMG, soon overcame the age barrier and fell in love. The couple also share something in common - they both went to St Paul's Co-educational College. Lau introduced her at a football match between staff of Chinese University and the University of Hong Kong as a member of the HKU council. Yet she was overjoyed when Chinese University equalised to make it 1-1. It may be the best result for both Lau, who retires this summer, and his wife, a niece of Leslie Cheung Kwok-wing, the late pop idol. Political sweeteners? Perish the thought Leaders of the Alliance for Constitutional Development, formed last month to drum up support for the government's proposals for the 2012 elections, are true believers in economist Milton Friedman's view that there is no such thing as a free lunch. The alliance, spearheaded by executive councillor Cheng Yiu-tong, launched a signature campaign on Saturday in support of the government's reform package. It has vowed to collect one million signatures to help the city's electoral system 'move forward'. The alliance's volunteers at its booths on the streets were spotted on Sunday handing out calendar cards to the elderly in an attempt to secure their signatures, angering pan-democrats. Cheng yesterday played down the event. 'I don't see any problem in handing out small gifts to members of the public [in the street],' he said. Protesters get their message across Remember the man who displayed placards in front of TVB cameras to complain about the broadcaster? Other aggrieved Hongkongers are following his tactics. At a forum on constitutional reform at Hong Kong Central Library yesterday, demonstrators not only shouted inside the venue but made sure their voices were heard by chanting 'universal suffrage in 2012' when constitutional affairs chief Stephen Lam Sui-lung spoke to reporters later. Security staff kept them from the cameras but could not stop their complaints from being aired. One of the protesters, who called himself Ah Lok, threw a bra at legislator Gary Chan Hak-kan during the RTHK programme City Forum on Sunday. He wore a huge hat yesterday but was barred from the venue because protest materials were not allowed.