Henry Tang Ying-yen broke his silence yesterday as the former chief secretary discussed a host of issues, including those involving the man whose job he had coveted before.
Tang said he is confident the next chief executive will be elected through universal suffrage in 2017, but refused to say if he will run again after being defeated by Leung Chun-ying in March.
"I believe the central government will implement genuine universal suffrage in 2017 - that it will give Hong Kong this opportunity," he told a radio program.
Tang said it is not his call whether or not Leung should complete his five-year term but hopes the chief executive will come up with a five-year development blueprint on how to improve democracy, the economy and livelihoods when he makes his policy address on January 16.
He also hopes the government can prepare a complete proposal on environmental policies, including a timetable, admitting he was partly responsible for the inadequate environmental policies of the previous administration.
"[But Leung] shouldn't just blame the last administration for residual problems," Tang added. "If there's a problem, then handle it."
He said he believes many people expected change after Leung was elected.
And since Hongkongers have high expectations and demands, Tang believes he too would not have escaped criticism had he been elected.
"I can see the government, Leung Chun-ying and civil servants are experiencing a huge challenge and pressure, and there are a lot of [quarrels] in society," he said.
It is clear from the large turnout of demonstrators on New Year's Day that citizens are far from content, he added. But attacks on journalists during a pro-government rally two days earlier was intolerable and should be denounced.
Tang said it is normal for society to have different voices.
"No matter how hard the government tries to carry out a policy there will always be some people who will say it is not enough," he said.
He also stressed Hongkongers cannot tolerate attacks on the judicial system and that civil servants should maintain the spirit and will to serve the public.