In colonial throwback, he sees a bigger Exco and a lesser role for ministers Donald Tsang Yam-kuen aims to make government stronger, more decisive and responsive by returning to the way policies were formulated in the colonial era. Outlining his reform ideas yesterday, he stressed the importance of involving different sectors of the community at all stages of the process, and made clear ministers would no longer have a collective role in the Executive Council's policy-making. Mr Tsang proposes changing the makeup of Exco and of a top government think-tank, and allowing senior civil servants to become political appointees. The chief secretary and financial secretary would be given more power. He suggested that most ministers should only attend Exco meetings when their policy area was being discussed - a pre-handover practice ditched when former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa launched his 'accountability system' in 2002. Mr Tsang, the overwhelming favourite to become chief executive, was addressing Election Committee members on his vision for 'consensus government'. Mr Tsang suggested revamping the Commission on Strategic Development and turning it into the most important advisory forum for policy formulation. He also wants to foster teamwork, and made clear 'sectarianism' among ministers and departments would not be tolerated. Civil servants with political ambition would, under the proposals, be allowed to opt for ministerial appointments - a major change. Initial reaction to his blueprint for reform was mixed, with some calling the restoration of colonial decision-making a backward step. But Exco member Cheng Yiu-tong agreed with restoring the colonial model, saying having a broader spectrum of opinion in the cabinet could minimise bad decisions. And Ronny Tong Ka-wah of the Article 45 Concern Group said expanding the cabinet would help the government hear different voices. Mr Tsang said his goal was a stronger executive. 'I will build a strong and efficient government. Once decisions are made, [they] will be implemented without delay.' He said he would try to work with the government's opponents. But he gave democrats short shrift when they pressed him on universal suffrage and their lack of dialogue with Beijing. 'Sometimes the method used is too aggressive, publicity-seeking. Very often it has the opposite effect [to that intended]. It gives the impression that we are not fighting for democracy,' he said. He said it was not up to him to promise whether Beijing would allow lawmakers, including democrats, to visit the mainland this year. Mr Tsang is proposing that: Exco be expanded to include more lawmakers, community leaders and representatives of political parties; Ministers only attend Exco when it discusses policies in their remit; The Commission on Strategic Development become the most important advisory body, with more lawmakers, business leaders, experts and academics as members; The chief secretary and financial secretary play a bigger part in policy formulation and co-ordination; Consideration be given to making it easier for civil servants to move to political posts. Speaking after yesterday's forum, Mr Tsang would not say if he would invite moderate democrats onto Exco. The appointees, he said, should be patriotic, competent, representative of society and share his governance philosophy. He dismissed concerns that broadening the Commission on Strategic Development would trigger conflicts with his cabinet. The commission would only be a forum for consensus building. Exco would vet details and have final approval. He said the government will explore ways of making it easier for senior public servants to leave the civil service and take up political appointments. 'We can delineate the roles of political and politically neutral officers so that those preferring to stay as civil servants will not need to take up political responsibility,' he said.