LIKE the financial secretaries who went before him, Donald Tsang Yam-kuen does not want to depart from tradition: he will go home and have lunch with his wife before addressing the Legislative Council in his first budget on Wednesday. 'My colleagues say it is a tradition, don't stop it,' he said. 'I don't know why. But it's meaningful to me. I have seldom gone back home just for a lunch with my wife.' Elevated to the top financial post six months ago, Mr Tsang is convinced there are good traditions for him to adhere to in managing Hong Kong's finances. A firm believer in the factors that will keep Hong Kong ticking in the future, such as low tax and restrained spending, he says: 'Convictions and beliefs should not be changed, especially when you believe there is already a very successful formula there. 'We should not opt for a different direction unless there are errors. I think the economy of Hong Kong is good and we are able to improve our livelihood. We should not make hasty changes. Drastic changes are not good for Hong Kong.' That does not mean, however, that he is not ready to listen to different voices, as some claimed was the case when he used a Greek myth to explain why the Government rejected demands to freeze public fees. For Ulysses to survive the sweet but destructive songs of the Sirens, he filled the crew's ears with wax, Mr Tsang wrote in the South China Morning Post. Conceding that he would have to be more careful when choosing analogies in future, Mr Tsang is adamant that what he believes is right. 'What I want to say is that after you have listened to and studied various views and taken a decision you should not shift your position,' he said. 'You should stick to your principles. 'Sir Hamish Macleod told me in the past to try to avoid using analogies and be very careful when using them. But it is always an effective way to put messages across in a simple way to the grassroots. 'The intellectuals and politicians might feel unhappy with it. But you have to make a choice. 'But ask the Legco members whether I have had contact with them in the past few months. I'm sure there has been more than before. 'I have certainly listened to more opinions in the past few months. I've found more things that are no longer simply either black or white. It makes it harder for me to make decisions.' Formerly the treasury secretary - who was appointed as acting financial secretary for Sir Hamish on some occasions - Mr Tsang has found his job even more challenging than he had expected. 'I have to say it's a bit different from the past, even when I was acting financial secretary,' he said. 'The present job covers a much wider area and is more demanding. 'The economy of Hong Kong has also seen many twists and turns in the past six months. And there is the 1997 issue and the sentiments of Hong Kong people. It has become more colourful and exciting. 'I have to think more and look for more ideas for questions that have become more complicated. I have to consider the political and economic consequences of every decision and think ahead in the short, medium and long term.' Like other senior policy secretaries, Mr Tsang says he feels the pressure to come to a decision after considering all the variables and their implications. 'The intense struggle in my mind makes me lose more hair,' he joked. He admits, however, such pressure is the price to pay for being a civil servant in the new political environment. 'It's inevitable that you'll be criticised, whatever you say and do,' he said. 'You cannot simply shut up or avoid sensitive issues. 'I've learned to prepare psychologically that I'll be criticised anyway. But I cannot bury my head in the sand and not speak up.' THE financial chief is resigned to the reality he will not please everyone - both in Legco and the community at large. 'I cherish my relationship with the Legco members,' he said. 'I have known some for many years. But we do hold different views on some issues. 'As a civil servant, I can take a broader and longer perspective. The councillors have to take into account the views of their constituents. 'Even if Sir Hamish were still in office, he would face the same difficulty. The political situation is no longer the same. We cannot sit idly if our fundamental principles are challenged.' The Legislative Council, says Mr Tsang, is vested with the power to supervise the Government's finance. 'We cannot stop it,' he said. 'But equally, it cannot stop me from stating my opinion about what we believe to be in the long-term interests of Hong Kong.' Referring to the policy on government fees and charges, he said: 'We have a strong conviction that we are doing the right thing. If we change it, our policy of low tax will face a severe challenge.' The Government has warned that a total Legco freeze on fee increases and charges will result in a total loss of $2 billion in government revenue. Legco members have succeeded in throwing out dozens of proposals that were put to the chamber for approval. But some got through. Mr Tsang said the decision by Legco to put some fee increase proposals on hold had already caused considerable impact on the overall financial situation. Given the recent drop in unemployment and inflation figures, Mr Tsang is hoping he will be able to strike a middle-of-the-road approach with Legco members after they have a full view of his budget. 'I hope that time will make a change and they will have more understanding about my principles and approach when they have a chance to look at the budget,' he said. The Legco challenge on the fees policy is but one of the tasks he faced in the first six months in office. He has been under pressure on issues such as an increase in the number of jobless, the slowdown in economic growth, the row over foreign worker importation and the threat to the mandatory provident fund scheme. 'The problems have influenced my assessment of the political reality and the future direction of the economy,' he said. Despite the fact there are cardinal principles at work in Hong Kong's economic success, Mr Tsang believes there is still room for him to manoeuvre, from giving priority to resource allocation, to planning ahead for the economy. 'Over the past six months, I have tried to hear as many views from outside as possible, from Legco members, business people, academics, overseas experts in bodies such as the IMF [International Monetary Fund] and World Bank, before making a decision. 'But you have to wait until Wednesday for what my thoughts are.' What is clear, he says, is that the next 12 months will be quite different. 'In my first six months, I have tackled the immediate problems,' he said. 'I hope to map out the direction and adopt long-term strategy in the next six months.' ALTHOUGH no major surprises are expected, people from all walks of life as well as the future sovereign will be watching his first fiscal blueprint, which is the last that will fall entirely under British rule. 'I do not feel particularly tense,' Mr Tsang said. 'It's strange. I have had some good sleep these last few days. Maybe I was tired. 'What I have learned in the past few months is that nothing is really a big deal. 'If you think what you have done is no big deal and the budget you've done is not your own but the budget of all the people of Hong Kong, the pressure on you is quite different. 'I hope what I have done is a reflection of the wishes of everyone. 'When you get older, you learn how to find peace of mind. I don't feel stress. 'We'll never please all the people. This is a fact. What I try to do is to seek support from as many as possible. 'Once you come to this you don't give yourself a lot of pressure. I always think that if you believe you can influence a lot of people it becomes pressure. 'And when you encounter more difficulty, the pressure will increase and you cannot get out of it. You'll be in big trouble. 'I will feel contented if the community thinks I have reflected what they want in the budget and that it helps for a smooth transition and future economic development. 'Criticism from some individual Legco members will be inevitable.'