Tsang says HK should avoid 'excessive devolution of power that paralyses government' Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said yesterday he had not ruled out universal suffrage in 2012, but he warned that democracy was not a panacea for Hong Kong's problems. Unveiling his election manifesto at a question-and-answer session for about 300 Election Committee members at a hotel in Admiralty, Mr Tsang stressed that any change in the political system should avoid 'excessive devolution of power that paralyses the government and slows down economic growth'. 'I haven't ruled out universal suffrage in 2012,' Mr Tsang said in reply to one question, a day after promising a green paper in the middle of the year to gauge public opinion on the issue. Pro-Beijing groups estimate Mr Tsang had secured nominations from at least 80 Election Committee members on his first day of campaigning. Challenger Alan Leong Kah-kit, speaking at the Legislative Council building, accused Mr Tsang of lacking responsibility on political development. 'He might as well have said he wouldn't rule out giving each citizen a flat,' Mr Leong said. 'As Mr Tsang must understand, to achieve universal suffrage, we need to pass three stages: consent from Legco, the chief executive, and Beijing. 'Now if the chief executive himself says, '2012 - I agree', then that's one of the barriers overcome. But until now ... we haven't heard that. We haven't heard anything about his personal feelings towards universal suffrage.' Mr Tsang described his outline for such moves as a 'most proactive attitude' as it would begin in the next few months. He reiterated that the public would be given a three-month consultation on the green paper, which would include the road map and timetable towards universal suffrage suggested by the Commission of Strategic Development. After that, 'mainstream views and differing opinions' would be presented to the central government for consideration. 'It's not passing the ball to the central government, because under constitutional arrangements, endorsement of the central government is required,' Mr Tsang said. 'I've never ruled out any timetable. My stance is that universal suffrage is my goal. We have to follow public opinion, try to work out a mainstream proposal and implement it as early as possible.' Mr Tsang expressed hope that the process of gauging public opinion and seeking the central government's support for the report could be finished within a year. He stressed, however: 'As we progress towards democracy, we need to pay attention to the development of related systems and arrangements. ... we need to give attention to the impact of [such] changes.' Mr Leong said Mr Tsang's platform contained nothing new from his platform for the 2005 by-election, apart from the new topic of heritage conservation.