Anson Chan Fang On-sang has vowed to play a constructive, not adversarial, role and help foster co-operation between the government and the legislature if she is elected to the Legislative Council.
'I don't see myself as being in the opposition because there has to be co-operation between political parties, members of the legislature and the government,' the former chief secretary said in a wide-ranging interview with the South China Morning Post.
'Yes, Legco provides checks and balances. But that doesn't mean there cannot be co-operation ... it's not idealist [thinking]. This is how I think a legislature should operate.'
With strong support from the pan-democrats, who endorsed her as their candidate on Sunday, Mrs Chan will face Regina Ip Lau Suk-yee, who has the backing of the Beijing-friendly and pro-government forces, in the December 2 by-election for Hong Kong Island. The race has been likened to a battle between the establishment and the opposition.
But Mrs Chan doesn't see it that way. 'I hope it won't be confrontational,' she said. 'I don't see any reason why different parties with different ideologies cannot work together.
'But you also need the government to adopt a policy that is inclusive, allowing all political parties to give their views, not to keep some at bay because they are deemed as the opposition.
'It's especially important when the chief executive does not have a popular mandate. He's got to embrace different political parties. This is the only way to make them play a constructive role.'
Insisting she is running as an independent candidate, Mrs Chan said her civil service and non-affiliated background could help bridge the gap between the government and the legislature.
'With my considerable experience in the government, I know what difficulties the government faces ... that experience would be extremely valuable to me when assessing government proposals in terms of their feasibility and practicality, the extent to which they reflect public opinion.'
She said political parties, legislators and government officials should sit down and discuss policy options sensibly to try to find a consensus.
'The government is supposed to be a strong executive-led government, yet it doesn't have a single voice in the legislature. This makes it very difficult to be really effective. That's why we are talking about moving as quickly as we can to universal suffrage, to be effective, responsive and accountable. Our chief executive must have a popular mandate.'