Those urging the central government to reassess the crackdown on demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989 have lost their most powerful symbol with the death of Zhao Ziyang . Despite appeals from Zhao's supporters, the mainland leadership is unlikely to hold a state funeral or official remembrance ceremonies for the former premier. But the wisdom of President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao will be tested in deciding how the government should deal with unofficial and private events to remember him. Some overseas analysts warn that Zhao's death could spark social unrest, in the same way that the death of purged party chief Hu Yaobang led to the Tiananmen demonstrations. But this is unlikely to happen. The current leadership of Mr Hu and Mr Wen has remained popular since coming to power because of their policy of putting the people first. More importantly, rapid economic growth over the past 15 years has brought significant improvement in the living standards of most mainlanders, a far cry from the late 1980s, which were characterised by runaway inflation and shortages of daily necessities. But as the leadership calls for further reforms to enhance the rule of the party, the need for political reform as advocated by Zhao is becoming more urgent. Since 1989, Zhao had lived under house arrest and was most remembered for his role at Tiananmen, which led to his downfall. But he was a pioneer of economic and political reforms. His views on the economy, particularly in agriculture, influenced the policies of his successors. In the short term, Mr Hu and Mr Wen are likely to maintain the policy of not talking about a reassessment of the Tiananmen protests and Zhao's role in them. That is because any hint of official reassessment would likely have major political implications for their leadership while they are in the process of consolidating their hold on power. However, they should make preparations for a reassessment in the medium or long term. Many of the issues that prompted millions onto the streets in 1989 still exist today and are getting worse - widespread corruption, a widening gap between the rich and poor, and challenges to party legitimacy. To tackle those problems, there should be no delay in carrying out political reforms and finding ways to strengthen the rule of law. To push forward the reforms, the leadership should also be prepared to address the raw political wound that is unlikely to heal any time soon.