The road to Rome or the road to ruin? The problem with using metaphors with little relation to the topic is that they can easily be used against you. Chief Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen found that out yesterday as he disclosed the political reform package. Trotting out the hoary cliche 'Rome wasn't built in a day' to explain the slow progress towards democracy, he added that Hong Kong was 'building together our road to Rome'. This prompted unionist democrat Lee Cheuk-yan to ask: 'Can you tell me which Rome you are leading us to? Modern Rome or one under the fascist regime of Mussolini?' Tang had no answer. The Civic Party's Audrey Eu Yuet-mee said: 'I don't know whether you've spoken to Cardinal [Joseph] Zen [Ze-kiun] on how to take the road to Rome, especially regarding the path to universal suffrage,' referring to the former head of the Catholic diocese who is known for his democratic views. Ronny Tong may be back in the fold Late last year Civic Party lawmaker Ronny Tong Ka-wah cut himself off from colleagues planning the de facto referendum movement and joined moderate democrats courting dialogue with Beijing. But could he be on his way back? Tong said yesterday he was so despondent over the government's political proposals that he would not join the Legco visit to the World Expo in Shanghai. 'Why are they going to the public with this [proposal]? Are they trying to support the de facto referendum and spark a large voter turnout?' He said, if asked, he would consider helping his party canvass for votes in the by-elections. Budget, what budget? One person who might have been happy with yesterday's announcement - or at least its timing - was Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah, as it stole the limelight from the Legco debate on his third budget. One suspicious legislator thinks it might have been deliberate. 'The budget did not focus on public concerns so everyone, including the government, is turning a blind eye to it,' Leung Yiu-chung said. The debate resumes today. Playing the sympathy card Expect the unexpected as everyone competes for media attention for the May 16 by-elections. Yesterday, New Territories East candidates were given the opportunity to introduce themselves on a radio show and listeners heard from Wu Sai-chuen - who seems to be playing the sympathy card. 'When I was 35, I once thought about throwing myself off a building to kill myself because of serious marriage, financial and health problems,' he said, leading radio hosts to remind the public to cherish their lives. At an electoral rules briefing on Tuesday evening, Lam Yi-lai, a Kowloon West candidate who ran in the 2008 elections on a platform targeting men having affairs, gave a hint of what the public could expect from him this time. ICAC officers were on hand to help candidates navigate election rules but Lam implied the anti-graft agency was itself not squeaky clean. Just like old times in the gallery Another New Territories East candidate making a name for herself is Crystal Chow Ching. She played a prominent role in mobilising young people over the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen democracy movement. That won the admiration of her election rival, 'Long-Hair' Leung Kwok-hung, on a radio programme. Later - with the League of Social Democrats' lawmakers having resigned from the legislature - it was left to Chow to shout slogans in the Legco gallery. 'Kick out the functional constituencies,' she yelled, resulting in her eviction ... just like Long Hair all those years ago.