The policy address was somewhat like the other big news event of the day, the liftoff of the mainland's second manned space flight - good show and worth applause, but done before and not much new about it. It was, however, one that would have been perfect for the first policy address, in 1997, when we were all still a little uneasy about the new political arrangement. It had just the right touchy-feely assurance that the chief executive would listen to our wishes, consult us regularly and practise open government. It also did a workmanlike job of covering all the bases in present government thinking on issues of the day, just the thing for 1997. But a little flat for 2005. If you were looking for new directions, find a different compass. The needle of this one has long been fixed in place. As Mr Tsang himself described his speech, 'it builds on our past achievements and delivers on pledges I made during the election campaign'. In other words, it was more of a policy review than a policy platform. If anything, it was marked by Mr Tsang's decision to take a step back from policy work. He, instead, delegated it to the chief secretary and the financial secretary, reserving the big-thinker role for himself. It is hard to imagine an elected prime minister devoting quite as much time as Mr Tsang did in tedious detail to spell out measures for involving the community. The time for that is election time and he was elected only a few months ago. But then he was not really quite elected, not in the sense of winning a general mandate, as a prime minister does, and he is honest enough to recognise it. Hence that one pervasive thread throughout the address of promises to keep us in touch and promote two-way communication: Please, you elected members of the Legislative Council, I also would like full democracy and you don't need to jump on my back quite so often. The one possibly jarring note came when he spoke of 'creating within our executive agencies a small number of positions dedicated to political affairs', the idea being to groom talent in government for political work. Although he denied it, this carries the suggestion of political commissars keeping an eagle eye on civil servants. It is a dangerous idea. In the end, it was only the space shot that reached new heights yesterday. The policy address remained solidly grounded - as it ought to be. Jake van der Kamp writes the Monitor column in the Post's business pages.