Blue-sky thinking saves Walter Kwok Dispersal of the sandstorm that engulfed the city for two days helped Walter Kwok Ping-sheung, ousted chairman of Sun Hung Kai Properties, sidestep an embarrassing question yesterday. Asked whether he had talked recently to his younger brothers, Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong and Raymond Kwok Ping-luen, Walter Kwok said he bumped into them occasionally at the company's headquarters. Pressed further, the tycoon, hosting a media gathering on the 45th floor of the Four Seasons Hotel, pointed to the relatively clear sky over Victoria Harbour. 'Look, the weather is so good,' he said, looking at his watch and saying he had to rush to a prearranged lunch meeting. Walter Kwok said two years ago that his brothers had tried to oust him as chairman and chief executive of Sun Hung Kai Properties, based on a series of allegations including doubts about his mental state. He was later removed from the two posts at a company board meeting in May 2008 and is now a non-executive director of the company. Winds of change nothing but smog A few weeks ago, Democratic Party members exulted over 'north winds' bearing indications that Beijing was willing to sit down and negotiate over a more progressive political reform proposal. A month later, the only things blowing down from the north are the worst pollution the city has ever seen. And those who attended the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference have suggested a real face-to-face meeting with Beijing officials is impossible, despite the Democrats' dutiful refusal to go along with the 'de facto referendum' staged by their more radical allies. Yesterday, former chief secretary Anson Chan Fang On-sang said recent events had shown that efforts by the party and other moderate democrats were indicative of failure to negotiate, rather than success. 'Who doesn't want to have dialogue with Beijing? Dialogue is a two-way communication, the other side has to be willing to sit down,' she said. 'We saw the results of [secretary for constitutional and mainland affairs] Stephen Lam Sui-lung visiting the Democratic Party. What did that achieve?' 'Referendum' challenger fancies odds Wong Wan-tai, the Wan Chai District councillor who intends to challenge the Civic Party's Tanya Chan on Hong Kong Island in the coming by-elections, is one of the few government-friendly politicians not to shun the 'referendum' sparked by the resignation of five pan-democrats. Wong, a former member of the Hong Kong Progressive Alliance, which merged with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong in 2005, believes his chances are not too bad. 'Suppose three candidates stand in a constituency, you have a one-third chance to win,' he said. Security chief spots the danger As one of the most senior political appointees in the cabinet of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, security chief Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong is well aware of his accountability, notably in the Legco chamber. A good example came yesterday when lawmaker James To Kun-sun questioned him about recent allegations that the police had arrested dissidents for political reasons. 'If police make political arrests and become a tool to suppress dissidents, then you are to be held politically accountable,' To said sternly. Not betraying a trace of nervousness, Lee spent two minutes expounding on how the government treasured freedom of speech and assembly. Then he said: 'I am very anxious about the allegations, as I know I will have political responsibility if the police abuse their power.'