Ticklish topic on the menu He might have spoken too soon in dismissing the Democratic Party's constitutional reform proposal as an 'unnecessary addition' - which turned out to be far from the case - but it hasn't put senior Beijing representative Hao Tiechuan (pictured) off facing the media. The director general of the department of publicity, cultural and sports affairs in the central government's liaison office will speak to the local press pack at a lunch to be organised by the Hong Kong Journalists Association next Thursday. And he's going to deal with a ticklish topic - the legal issues journalists face when covering crises affecting social order on the mainland. Many media organisations have already signed up for the function, which marks the first time the association has had a central government official as a guest. Democrats' high dudgeon The politically appointed undersecretaries are supposed to be a communications channel between ministers and political parties, but one has recently had a bit of trouble fulfilling that role. Undersecretary for transport and housing, Yau Shing-mu, has been blacklisted by the Democratic Party, which has accused him of refusing to meet villagers in the Legislative Council building last month to discuss redevelopment matters, saying he wanted to meet them in his Wan Chai office. 'We are cutting all ties and have ordered one of our lawmakers to cancel a dinner with him as punishment,' one party leader said. We're not sure how unhappy Yau is about this - there must be lots of government officials who secretly would be quite pleased not to meet the Democrats - but rumours are circulating that his boss, Eva Cheng, has asked the party to go easy on her acolyte. Yau's spokesman said at the time that it was the villagers who demanded the change of venue. Value of education Cash-strapped non-governmental organisations and labour unions must envy the financial strength of the Professional Teachers' Union. The 82,000-strong union, which owns two premises in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, is looking for 10,000 square feet in Yuen Long to provide services for its members living in the New Territories. Vice-president Cheung Man-kwong says it is eyeing Yuen Long because one-third of its members live in the northern New Territories. The pro-democracy union operates supermarkets in its premises in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island which offer substantial discounts for its members, and the planned clubhouse in Yuen Long will operate a similar store. Its leaders know well that supporters of faster progress to democracy are also concerned about bread-and-butter issues and would not reject a high-definition television set whose price could be HK$1,000 lower than in the regular market. That is why it has emerged as one of the biggest and best organised unions in the city. Basic ambition Chief Justice Andrew Li Kwong-nang, who will officially retire at the end of this month, is looking forward to doing things he never previously had time for. 'I have been travelling in the fast lane for over 37 years,' the judge told Hong Kong Lawyer magazine in a swansong interview. 'I shall be departing with no regrets.' Horse racing, tennis, bridge and reading are pursuits he has in his sights, together with 'a modest amount of law teaching'. Let's hope that, as a prospective legal academic, he will not be bombarded with questions by the media should there be any further interpretation of the Basic Law by Beijing - something which will always be remembered on his watch as Hong Kong's top judge since the handover.