Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen does not have the luxury of being able to create a personal dream team of senior aides. For the sake of continuity, following the sudden resignation of Tung Chee-hwa last year, Mr Tsang kept his predecessor's ministerial team intact. New appointments have been made as and when vacancies arise. Yesterday, Mr Tsang made three such appointments. The post of director of the Chief Executive's Office has not been filled since Lam Woon-kwong resigned for personal reasons last year. Yesterday, the chief executive gave the job to John Tsang Chun-wah, previously secretary for commerce, industry and technology. This prompted two further cabinet changes. In addition, the chief executive is expected to announce soon that former journalist and public affairs consultant Andy Ho On-tat will become the government's information co-ordinator, one of a few new posts he managed to create. Another public affairs veteran is also expected to join the Central Policy Unit as a full-time member to give him political advice. With only 17 months to go before the chief executive's term expires in June next year, the primary responsibility of John Tsang and Mr Ho will be to help their boss secure re-election. As the poll will be held early next year, the next 12 months is critical to that undertaking. The duo will have the difficult task of helping the chief executive crack tough policy issues and maintain his high popularity ratings. John Tsang has been the chief executive's protege since he joined the civil service. The two met while studying at Harvard University in the early 1980s. The elder Mr Tsang was already a high-flier in the civil service. He was reportedly so impressed with the younger man that he encouraged him to return to Hong Kong to join the government. With strong administrative skills, sharp political acumen and friendly ties with legislators, John Tsang is expected to become the chief executive's key link with the legislature. Mr Ho is a former political editor of the South China Morning Post. He later became a successful public affairs consultant and has maintained good ties with officials, politicians and journalists. The chief executive is expected to rely on him to present government policies in their best light and plan his election strategy. The position vacated by John Tsang has been filled by Joseph Wong Wing-ping, until now secretary for the civil service, while Mr Wong's old job has been taken by Denise Yue Chung-yee, who was permanent secretary for commerce, industry and technology. While the two appointments are ancillary in nature, it is significant to note that Ms Yue has decided to become secretary for the civil service by suspending - rather than ending - her membership of it. Ms Yue enjoys high regard among civil servants. Her appointment is in line with the chief executive's motto of strong governance. Ms Yue is reportedly among a batch of senior officers who have serious misgivings about the ministerial system introduced by Mr Tung in 2002. In her new role, it is believed she will try to uphold the fine traditions of the civil service and pre-empt their encroachment by the top layer of political appointees. The public has generally responded positively to the various appointments Mr Tsang has made since taking the helm. They include his decision to reform the Executive Council by increasing the number of non-official members and filling them with prominent professionals from various sectors. Through these limited but deft changes, Mr Tsang has achieved two objectives - installing new faces at the top without discarding Mr Tung's old team, and fulfilling his vow to recruit outside talent. Time will tell if this mix of the old and the new will be better able to take Hong Kong forward in an increasingly politicised environment. Mr Tsang is clearly preparing for next year's election. And if he wins a five-year term he will then have more freedom to put in place his own hand-picked ministerial team.