HK has seen a big change in leadership style under Tsang The government has abandoned its 'top-down' policy and is engaging the community in policy-making under Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, says Central Policy Unit head Lau Siu-kai. Professor Lau, who has served Mr Tsang and his predecessor Tung Chee-hwa for nearly five years, said there had been a significant change in the style of governance. 'It can't always be top-down. We realise we have to consolidate different community forces.' The government's chief strategist conceded that issues such as poor air quality and a widening wealth gap continued to affect Mr Tsang's popularity. He was not too concerned, however. 'I am not worried by a sudden drop of a few points.' The government was stepping up efforts to improve the situation, he said. Last week Mr Tsang said he would announce his candidacy for re-election once he had completed his campaign platform. Professor Lau said the government realised that a top-down approach was no longer adequate in a fast-changing world. 'The future is increasingly volatile and unpredictable. The government dares not rely only on its own wisdom. It has to adopt an open approach. 'Although the central government has a leading role in the political system - and it's not up to us to change the system - we can still alter the style of governance to cope with our problems ... Changes are unavoidable. You just have to become more open and engage the community.' he said. He said this was reflected in the wake of the heritage conservation controversy. The government no longer insisted on sticking to its heritage policy after seeing people's concern over the demolition of the Star Ferry clock tower in Central. 'We are indirectly admitting that the government bureaucracy has limitations in thinking outside the box. We must tap community wisdom, especially of those with experience.' Asked if Mr Tung would have introduced the same change in governance, Professor Lau said: 'Maybe or maybe not. The change in style of governance has become more significant over the past two years. It has something to do with the person [in charge].' Although a survey by the University of Hong Kong showed Mr Tsang's rating was nearly 10 points down from its peak of 73 (out of 100) in June 2005, he cautioned against overreacting. 'Political leaders around the world don't have high popularity these days. Their ability to resolve problems has been restricted by factors beyond their control.' The campaign office of chief executive challenger Alan Leong Kah-kit last night dismissed claims Mr Tsang had abandoned the top-down approach. A spokesman said the 'turnaround' on the West Kowloon Cultural District project, a goods and services tax and heritage conservation showed he had not consulted the community adequately.