Antony Leung Kam-chung, financial secretary-designate, yesterday played down his description of his relationship with current finance chief Donald Tsang Yam-kuen as 'Mars bumping into Earth'. The comment was made in a radio interview. Later in the day, Mr Leung said he meant to say both he and Mr Tsang had strong characters and had in the past argued frankly over various issues. 'But our frank exchanges were always over issues. There was nothing personal,' he said. 'When both of us were at one on an issue, we also teamed up to argue our case strongly with others. There are no problems between us that cannot be solved as long as we work on what we agree while maintaining our differences. We both share a commitment to serve the public.' He also said Joseph Yam Chi-kwong, chief executive of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, was a good friend. They played golf and had, over the years, discussed financial issues. Mr Leung said yesterday that contrary to popular belief he had not known Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa since his student days when he was granted a scholarship to study at the Seawise University, which was founded by Mr Tung's father. Classes were held on board an ocean liner and students were taken on a world tour. Mr Leung said he only got to know Mr Tung as a shipping magnate through his banking business more than 10 years ago. It was only from 1996, when he supported Mr Tung's candidacy for the SAR's top job, that he got close to him, he said. He said Mr Tung had invited him to sit on the Executive Council, but he initially refused because his family opposed the idea. It was Chief Secretary for Administration Anson Chan Fang On-sang who persuaded him to join the council. He said he had no intention of becoming chief executive. Had that been his plan, he would not have agreed to become financial secretary, he said. Asked how he would handle politics with lawmakers, Mr Leung said he would learn from Mr Tsang and try his best to explain government policies to the public, whose opinion lawmakers must also heed. Citing a saying by Confucius, Mr Leung said his personal philosophy was to endeavour to do his best, but would leave it to fate as to whether his hard work would bear fruit. Mr Leung said he had resigned from his post of Asia-Pacific head at investment bank JP Morgan Chase last week, but his precise departure date had yet to be determined. Noting that serving the community was his wish, Mr Leung said in becoming financial secretary, he was not after 'money, power, fame or a better job afterwards'. He said he had not set specific goals for himself during his tenure, but hoped to help Mr Tung achieve his vision of building a 'civilised, prosperous, free and democratic Hong Kong'.