I hope we can take steps as soon as new term starts - 2012 will be too late, he says Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen is optimistic that a date for universal suffrage will be available well before the end of his expected second term. Asked if there would be a clear date for the introduction for universal suffrage before the end of the term, Mr Tsang said: 'You have to wait until I set out my manifesto. I'm a bit more optimistic on that.' He said he hoped to deliver a clearer picture on the way forward as soon as his second term began. 'It will be rather too late if it comes by the end of the term [in 2012],' he said in an interview at Government House. 'I really hope that as soon as the term begins, we will be able to chart out what we want to do.' Uncertainty over democratic reform has deepened following the vetoing by the Legislative Council in December 2005 of an electoral reform package initiated by Mr Tsang for the 2007 chief executive and 2008 Legislative Council elections. The government hopes the Commission on Strategic Development, composed of leaders from different sectors of the community, will be able to reach consensus on the way forward in its final report, scheduled for completion in the next few months. Referring to the 2005 setback, Mr Tsang said: 'I have learned my lesson in the process. I have learned how to gain trust, present a proposition in a win-win manner.' He pointed out that the issue of universal suffrage was a matter of concern for both the mainland and Hong Kong. 'If we bring ourselves to look at things from the perspective of the future of Hong Kong being the common purpose, rather than engaging in purely adversarial politics with a view to toppling the government, I think we will be there. 'I need [Beijing's] trust in order to develop universal suffrage. The more suspicions being expressed, the more difficulty we'll have in moving towards the final destination. 'I'm optimistic. There are a lot of people with goodwill in the community and Legco.' Speaking days before he formally declares his candidacy, Mr Tsang said he hoped to 'bring Hong Kong to a much higher plateau' if he won a second term. While he stopped short of giving a preview of his election manifesto, which he said was a work in progress, he highlighted the critical importance of fostering a harmonious society and turning Hong Kong into East Asia's international financial hub. Mr Tsang said he would stick to his approach of making promises only on things he could deliver. He disagreed with suggestions that a government without a mandate based on universal suffrage would not be able to deliver results. '[The ideas that] a government without universal suffrage cannot deliver anything and universal suffrage can make everything feasible ... are not true. In Asia, the universal suffrage system does not seem to deliver stable government, except in Japan,' he said. 'We have to work on a situation where we do not have a perfect system. I will be delivering things I have been delivering in the past. I will bring my projects to the people, discuss sincerely and do everything possible to get them through Legco. 'Even elected members who might not like me, [or] like what I do, cannot fight against public opinion forever ... I will anchor all my policies on public opinion.'