The financial secretary has called on university students to develop a commitment to the community and said the underprivileged should be helped to become self-reliant rather than relying on cash handouts.
In a lecture at Chinese University, his first public speech at a local university since taking up the post, John Tsang Chun-wah shared his experience of taking part in community services in New York in the 1960s and 1970s.
'When I was in secondary school, I followed my classmates going uptown, handing out breakfasts to poor kids. When I studied in college, I went to elderly centres in Chinatown, where I helped plan free medical services [for the elderly].'
Offering breakfasts to poor children had helped him to learn about social justice, he said.
'I believe that there may not be many students entering politics. Even if you work in the business sector, or further your studies or become professionals, you must care about the community.'
Citing remarks made by Microsoft's Bill Gates in a speech at Harvard University, the financial chief reminded the students that university life was a starting point to developing a commitment to the community.
'The world's wealthiest tycoon said his biggest regret was that he left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world. He raised a solemn question: should our best minds be dedicated to solving our biggest problems?'
His comments echoed a theme he touched on in a speech in July at a dinner hosted by The 30s group, a network of new political talent, when he urged young professionals to consider entering politics.
Yesterday, he disclosed that during his college years he regarded leaders of the American civil rights movement Martin Luther King Jnr and Malcolm X as his idols. But he considered King 'not radical enough' so he and his friends did not pay too much respect to the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize at the time.
Malcolm X, famous for his inflammatory remarks, articulated concepts of racial pride and black nationalism in the early 1960s.
On the issue of income disparity, Mr Tsang insisted that even though the government coffers were full, dispensing handouts was not the best use of public money. He said it was better to teach people self-reliance.
At one point, an academic asked him to comment on the leadership performance of Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and his predecessor, Tung Chee-hwa.
Describing the question as a 'dangerous' one, the finance chief replied: 'Someone once said intelligent people talk about ideas, average people talk about things, and small people talk about other people.
'I'd like to make a new sentence, by saying intelligent people talk about ideas but not other people, so let's stop talking about other people.'
Asked to comment about the controversy surrounding Democrat Martin Lee Chu-ming's remarks urging US President George W. Bush to press Beijing on human rights, Mr Tsang said the Olympic Games should not be politicised.