Described by pundits as a light meal, the second policy address by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen then served a heavy dessert. In his conclusion, Mr Tsang reiterated that dropping the term 'positive non-interventionism' was not 'a shift' or 'a U-turn in our policy'. He recapped the history of the term coined by Sir Philip Haddon-Cave, financial secretary in the early 1980s. Although the term was no longer used, Mr Tsang said: 'The underlying philosophy has remained unchanged for the past 30 years.' Compared with his light touch and no-nonsense approach on contentious issues, Mr Tsang's remarks on positive non-interventionism are intriguing. He said: 'We do not engage in ideological debate or utopian social projects ... For the sake of effective governance, I have always believed that we have to keep our feet firmly on the ground, and not be hamstrung by ideology or slogans.' Nevertheless, Mr Tsang has hinted of a possible adjustment in economic strategy in view of globalisation and the rise of China. He added that pragmatic and concrete discussion on the government's role in various economic sectors was warranted. He urged the community to discuss 'when and to what extent the government should ever intervene in the market'. His remarks prompted executive councillor Tsang Yok-sing to ask Mr Tsang to share his thinking on the issue at a question-and-answer session in the Legislative Council on Thursday. Exco's Mr Tsang cited the development of the film industry as a case for the chief executive to explain 'when and to what extent' the government should intervene. The chief executive agreed it was a good case for public debate on the role of government. Referring to some proposals for developing the film industry, without specifying which ones, he expressed concern some might have already gone beyond what the government should do. The issue of the government's role in economic development surfaced again when Lui Ming-wah, a legislator representing the business sector, called on the government to take the lead in setting up a high-level council to spearhead industrial development. The chief executive reiterated the business sector knew far better than government what industries should be developed. His warning against picking winners among industries and reservations about the merits of some proposals for developing the film industry have shed light on his answer to Tsang Yok-sing's question. Faced with growing pressure from certain sectors for the government to give more development assistance, the chief executive was walking on thin ice trying to address their needs without compromising the government's role and values. In view of criticism that the government has used the issue of 'positive non-interventionism' as an excuse to adopt a more proactive approach, he made clear the principle had been dropped a long time ago. By doing so, Mr Tsang was trying to convince critics the government has, and would continue to follow, a practical and pragmatic approach to helping the economy power ahead, which was one of three major tasks outlined in his first policy address last year. Intriguingly, he talked at length about the importance of a rethink on the government's role. The fact he has exercised caution in dealing with the demands of the film industry - at least for now - shows he was mindful of the far-reaching implications on a free-market economy. As he tried to end philosophical debate about positive non-interventionism, Mr Tsang was hoping to define the issue as a question of 'when and to what extent' the government should intervene. Compared with that vague principle, the newly defined question is clearer and more straightforward. It will prove to be equally, if not even more, controversial as the government seeks to harmonise conflicting interests and values in society.