Donald Tsang Yam-kuen now regards himself as a politician, but he had some difficulty yesterday explaining this in his native tongue.
Caught between two Chinese terms, one with negative connotations and one he deemed far too grandiose, the chief executive-designate opted for English.
'I am no longer a civil servant,' Mr Tsang declared. 'Of course, I have a civil service background and I am proud of it. But, to be frank, the major element of my current job is politics.'
This did not, however, mean he was ching hak , a political 'guest' more interested in personal gain than public service, nor did he seek to anoint himself as ching chi ga , a statesman-like figure.
'In English, politician is the accurate word but it's difficult to find an equivalent term in Chinese,' he confessed.
Earlier, Mr Tsang set out to prove he was not blind to the problems of others, removing his glasses to take part in a table hockey game against a visually impaired worker at the Hong Kong Society for the Blind. Winning despite the lack of spectacles, he praised the visually impaired for their participation in society.
But when asked to help the process by awarding government tenders to the society's factory for the blind, he was not too sure what he could do.
A frontline staff member told him: 'The [blind] face high pressure to find employment. They are seldom awarded government tenders, so it's hard for them to support themselves.'
Mr Tsang promised to keep their problems in mind but warned that for tenders over a certain amount, World Trade Organisation rules required free and open competition.